Okay, are you ready for some music? I’m still trying to figure out the best way to get back into posting more regularly, but until then, here’s a quick walkTRu of a new album released last week that I was able to get a review copy of. The name Tori Kelly may sound familiar because she’s been pretty busy. She’s competed or appeared on the circuit of television singing and talent contests. She made a name for herself on YouTube. She even voiced a cartoon elephant in the movie SING. She’s been a guest and featured singer many tunes and, as she releases her second studio album, her star appears to be on the rise. Since there are only eight songs, this seems like a good candidate for a walkTRu, so let’s dive in and I’ll share my first impressions.

Tori Kelly – Hiding Place

01. Masterpiece – Okay, it’s been 15 seconds and I had to pause this already. First, that voice. Second, this is a straight up gospel record. This is what happens when I don’t read all the press releases about this. Third, I must re-calibrate and dive back in. I was expecting more R&B – especially with a Lecrae guest spot – but yeah, this has Fo Yo Soul written all over it. In fact, it looks like Kirk had a hand in writing a lot of these tracks, too. Nice surprise.
02. Help Us to Love – This one slows down the tempo and channels the harmonies of the HamilTones (I’m unfamiliar with them), but this is a really smooth track, with a classic feel and man, that voice is quite impressive. Help us to love the way you love [us]… nice song.
03. Sunday – Keeping the tempo dialed down, this track boasts a nice soul and touches from the organ and piano keys to give it a jazzy feel. And the scatting… ski-be-dah-bee-bop, baby. It’s like we’re eavesdropping on a candid recording session.
04. Just As Sure – This one features Jonathan McReynolds and if you’re a fan of gospel music, his last couple albums are definitely worth checking out. Then again, if you’re a fan of gospel music, you probably already know. Anyway, this song treads that line between gospel, R&B, and jazz once again.
05. Psalm 42 – This psalm has been the basis of many worship songs, but not quite like this. Most of the music is stripped away and loosely defined by wispy sweeps of wind effects, opening the way for an intimate showcase of Kelly’s strategically scratchy vocals and a worshipful cry.
06. Questions – Backed by somewhat ominous piano undertones, Kelly tackles doubts and depression and concerns of life. Wow, what a nice transition about halfway through into a beautiful bridge expressing hope and a touch of joy. What a great emotional journey this song takes us on. Like the book of Job all bundled into less than five minutes. That’s it, actually, if the book of Job was a broadway play, this would be the overture.
07. Never Alone – I feel like I should pull out some old school Amy Grant, but that’s just the track title calling me to reminisce. This is nothing like that. This is a single-worthy gospel track with a range of emotion and tempo and style. And a touch of Kirk Franklin.
08. Soul’s Anthem (It Is Well) – This doesn’t any featured vocals, but Kelly is backed by a choir for this one and it’s beautiful. It helps that this is tied to one my all time favorite hymn. I’m just finding myself lost in this arrangement. Very well done and the Lion King “ohmmmm” is a great way to cap off this album.

So there you have it. An eight-track gospel album that features a talented and versatile young lady with a promising future. I still think she would throw down a killer R&B album that would rival Rihanna and Beyonce. Just have to wait on that, I guess. Thanks to Capitol Christian Music for providing a review copy of this album.

peace… love… bdg…