Worried Mind is an understated, confident collection about the anxieties of daily life.
On his excellent Other Record Labels Podcast, Scott Orr is an eager student of how it is successful independent record labels manage to do business at a time where the very idea of a record label is dying out. In the recording studio, though, Orr gives masterclasses in restrained performances and delicate songwriting.
Worried Mind, the latest release on Orr’s own indie label Other Songs Records, picks up where 2016’s Everything left off, literally and figuratively. Where Everything documented the trajectory of Orr’s sixteen-year relationship, Worried Mind finds the singer-songwriter anxiously preoccupied with all that comes next: the foibles of married life, the struggle between making money and making art, and reconciling difficult family histories in order to move forward. Orr’s trademark whispered delivery, floating between hushed conversation and dreamy sleeptalk, is the perfect vehicle for these reserved songs. His performance on “Seasons” feels pregnant with subtext, as though his internal thoughts are influencing his singing rather than the melodies. He is vulnerable, emotionally open, yet at the same time exhibits a timidness and reticence for showiness that’s deeply endearing.
Orr’s attention to detail and texture is impeccable. “Fall Apart”, “No Phone”, and opener “Sunburned” appear so simple on the surface but are bubbling over with nuance and subtleties that reveal themselves through repeated listens. It’s easy to underestimate a record as hushed and mellow as Worried Mind after a cursory listen, but Scott Orr offers more than just an aesthetic treat for the minimalist music fan. Understated, exquisite, and emotionally charged, Worried Mind is a confident, compelling collection from a gifted singer-songwriter.