Intense emotions power a songwriter’s breakthrough LP
Singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott (a.k.a. Torres) detangles years of spiritual unrest on her stirring second album. She recorded the set in an old children’s nursery in rural England with co-producer Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey) and Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley, who help give her steely reflections a ghostly vibe. The scalding grunge fury of “Strange Hellos” is tempered into the smoldering tones of “New Skin,” a gentle meditation on baptism. “If you do not know the darkness,” Scott crows, “then you’re the one I fear the most.” On the title track, she looks back at her own religious upbringing, illuminating the long-running face-off between the skeptic and the Holy Spirit that both preside in her.