Back in March, Brooklyn-based Mackenzie Scott, better known as Torres, dazzled audiences at SXSW in Austin, Texas, which left a significant impression on the folks at NPR, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone. Fast-forward to May 4th and she’s out with the highly anticipated and telling album, Sprinter (via Partisan Records). This is Torres’ sophomore album and it falls somewhere between a bedroom whisper, a heartbroken prayer, and a brilliant repentant cry in the dark. Following her self-titled debut in 2013, Torres pushes herself to even more turbulent extremes on Sprinter. At the album’s core, she shines a glimmering light on her upbringing with lyrics that allude to the divide between conventional faith and personal redemption. Certain distinctions about growing up as a Baptist and finding her own freedom can be clearly heard in the title track, “Sprinter.”
“A Proper Polish Welcome,” a haunting lullaby, is another standout within the record. Its over-flowing chords and the strikingly celestial lilt of Scott’s voice demonstrates just how far she has progressed as a musician. As with so many singer/songwriters for whom lyrics and velvet-toned vocals take priority over every other element, Torres has never sounded quite so self-assured musically as she questions visceral insecurities in “New Skin.” This particular track is loaded with heavy guitar riffs and harrowing vocals as Scott recounts the perplexities of becoming someone she’s expected to be versus who she wants to be. “Lay off me, would ya? I’m just trying to take this new skin for a spin.”
Through the stretch of the album, Torres wrestles with nostalgia in a menacing quality, and in turn, has created one of the richest and most powerful albums about spirituality and the human condition in a very long time.