I caught V Torres’ performance at the Hotel Café in Hollywood this past weekend, where she was celebrating the release of her new solo EP Real Life Love. Impossibly cool, tough and effortlessly glamorous, V has all the inherent makings of a true rock star, and her powerful stage presence is imbued with her rich experience playing the LA indie music scene over the past decade. Formerly the front-woman and driving force of indie-alternative rock band Gorgeous Got a Gun, Torres has stripped down her pop-rock flair and fully embraced a warmly authentic new sound, grounded in bluesy roots-rock. The result is a tight, groovy, 5-song EP that oozes charisma and a moving world-weary optimism that can only come from focused self-reinvention.
The record kicks off with the title track, laying down a quick breath of soulful organ before launching right into the haunting vocal line: “I want a love that’s real/It’s got that honesty feel/I don’t play no games, what you see is what you get, and I’m hoping that you’re into it.” It’s Torres’ thesis statement, bold, blunt and reverberating with self-aware power. Her voice, like a cross between Aimee Mann and Joan Jett (with an occasional hint of Gwen Stefani, hinting at her pop-rock past), roars with determination, and sprinkles of keys simmering under the soulful, bending guitars all blend together to support the heart of this musical mission statement. The track sets the tone for the emotional core of the album, which speaks to the lingering idealism that motivates a woman to refuse to settle for less than her heart’s greatest desire. The lyrics hint at a past heartache without addressing it directly; by establishing the groundwork for the kind of love she wants, Torres implies that past loves have fallen short of her emotional standards.
The rest of the songs are equally gripping. The World Won’t Wait draws influence from 70’s rock, with echoes of The Doors, The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. The Youth starts with a sexy, funky bass line, and explodes into one of my favorite vocal performances on the record, with Torres’ voice at it’s most lilting, vibrating with a retro breathiness that makes lyrically simple lines like “for you, for you, gonna see this straight through” soar. There’s a hint of influence from late 90’s/early 2000’s alt rock that our generation grew up on, which serves as another musically autobiographical touch to a sound that emanates personal authenticity. Every time the sound begins to veer into pure rock territory, she pulls back with careful restraint into a folkier vocal, a subdued blues guitar riff, a gentle tambourine lull.
On Old Soul, Torres develops her personal journey further, singing “Why sit here another minute if I know how it’s gonna go?” Here we see her transition from one phase of her life, both musically and personally, and the moment she decides to move forward. The dramatic progression of the tracks is stunningly nuanced. You can feel her vulnerability and her strength in every note. During her live show, she explained that the last song on the EP, Uncovering, is about how one uncovers their own personal truth, rather than discovering it, because that truth is already within us, piled upon by external stimulus and societal expectation. She ends on her strongest lyrics yet: “I don’t need another thing chosen by the people of society/I only need the things that inspire me, giving me the strength for uncovering.”
Real Life Love is a portrait of a powerful woman at a crossroads, comfortable in her own lived-in skin, and ready to take on the music world on her own terms.
The EP is now available on iTunes, and streaming on Apple Music and Spotify.