Today, Torres – real name Mackenzie Scott – returns with her fourth studio album, Silver Tongue. The lush, compelling record marks a few firsts for the Macon, Georgia songwriter: It’s her debut release on Merge Records, and the first studio album she produced on her own.
Scott broke down five songs from Silver Tongue for Guitar.com. Read on to find out more about the gear behind the record – plus how Phil Collins’ Tarzan soundtrack inspired one cut.
[This is] maybe my favorite song on the record. Sonically it was built around the original drum loop I’d made for the demo version, which I had modeled (so I thought) after parts of Phil Collins’ Tarzan soundtrack. Jeff Zeigler, my engineer, just had me sing a guide vocal in the studio to that drum loop and we layered from there. But I think this is probably my favorite vocal melody on the album.
This was the first song I wrote for Silver Tongue. The chorus vocal melody and beat came to me while I was in the shower, which is when most of my ideas are best. A Schutzwald, or protection forest, was what I wanted to reference lyrically, comparing a person to a protection forest that shields you from natural disasters. I love the idea of meeting someone again and again and again in every lifetime, every dimension, and to echo the cyclical sentiment I made the chorus a rolling melody that sort of goes and goes like a hamster wheel.
I started with a Korg Volca Beats machine and sang a melody over it to make the demo. It was actually really corny at first because of the huge drum machine sound and felt like it needed something to ground it. I decided on the strummed guitar throughout as a last minute thought in the studio, which is funny because usually when there’s a strummed guitar in a song it’s because it was written that way initially. It also contained about twice as many lyrics before I whittled and trimmed – I even cut the lyric that said the words “dressing America”.
Two of Everything
This song took forever to write, mostly because I wanted to get it perfect lyrically. It’s kind of wordy. The other hurdle was the chorus. I knew I wanted it to be somber and a little sexy in the verses but then open it up into something more singable and danceable in the choruses. Those tonal transitions were tricky to get right but I think the dominating fuzz guitar riff added to the chorus was what ended up making it fun.
Jorge Elbrecht did a masterful job mixing this one. The subtle echo you hear in the vocal towards the second half of the song could have been so cheesy in the wrong hands, but he handled those moments so tastefully. Almost certain this one was recorded on a nylon-string guitar, which is an instrument I never play live but it worked well for the recorded version. I think there’s a sweetness to its simplicity.
Torres’ Silver Tongue is out now via Merge Records.