January 26, 2003

Torrez "The Evening Drag"

There's something enjoyably dark about Torrez's second album, The Evening Drag. So much music of this dark-folk genre grows tiresome after a few tracks, but not Torrez. Instead of your basic guitar/drum/violin/piano mixture, Torrez have decided to mix things up, and have thrown in such things as mellotrons, omnichords, optigons, and pedal steel guitar all of which create a nice, heady, spooky vibe.

Of course, there's the main attraction, and that is Kim Torres' singing. Soft, sexy, luxurious, it's also dark, leary, and if you stare hard enough at the cover, I'm sure you'll see a red hourglass. Singing somewhere between hurt and hungover, she's had too many cigarettes tonight, too many beers, and probably too many tears. I wouldn't say she's hard, but she has been hardened, because there's an austerity in her voice that cannot be denied. Songs such as "All the Riders" and "All on Fire" are breathy siren songs that take on newer meaning once the lights go out, and "A New Despair" and the deceptively beautiful "All on Fire" would easily send Cat Power scampering up a tree in fear.

All of these songs are great, but I think that allowing all of those interesting little effects and musical toys to stand out would make The Evening Drag an even better album. The last part of "The Evening Sun" is a great example; the instruments are showcased, and it sounds great. "A New Despair" is also a great little instrumental passage that makes me want to hear more of it. You can tell that all of the members of Torrez are excellent musicians; it just seems a shame to allow the musical ability to be left as accompaniment to a singer. A blending/melding of instrumental passages between numbers, a la Calexico, wouldn't hurt Torrez; in fact, it might even help to strengthen an already excellent band.

It's refreshing to hear a band add new dimensions to a style that could easily prove boring after a few minutes. While The Evening Drag might not be something you listen to every day, it's also not a record you'll only listen to in part, because it's a journey into the soul, a soul in a bar on the dark side of town. With time and some more unique instruments, Torrez could prove to be an even more awesome band. As for now, The Evening Drag will do just fine for those moments when I need some Absinthe to chase away my tears.

--Joseph Kyle

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