There’s a great Van Dyke Parks quote from Paul Zollo’s book Songwriters on Songwriting, where Parks says something to the effect of “if you can’t strip away the arrangement/production of a song and still have something interesting, then it’s probably not a very successful composition.” For Parks, this is a particularly great artistic statement, because for all of the weirdness of an album like Song Cycle, it’s apparent that the tunes have structural integrity. It’s for this reason that Parks playing “The All Golden” alone at the piano is just as interesting when removed from Song Cycle’s warbly arrangement.
This concept of creating songs that have maximal impact even with minimal materials seems to be a large part of singer-songwriter Torres’ (a.k.a. Mackenzie Scott) work. On her self-titled debut album, Scott presents a set of tunes that revel in the minimal due to her prowess as a writer/performer. Even when she opts for stranger production aesthetics, like on the alternately spooky/sultry “Chains” or album highlight “Waterfalls,” Scott keeps it spare and lets her songs speak for themselves, making the more adventurous tunes on the record just as effective as solo voice and guitar numbers like “Jealousy and I.”
While Scott’s work sounds absolutely nothing like Van Dyke Parks, it seems that both artists’ music is driven by the same guiding principles. The combination of Scott’s dedication to her formal craft in conjunction with the beautifully spare western ambiance of her arrangements makes for a fascinating listen that finds Parks’ philosophy embodied and transparent in Torres’ modern minimal sound.
Torres is out now. You can stream the record in its entirety below via Bandcamp:
• Torres: http://www.torrestorrestorres.com