Three years ago, Tori Kelly seemed poised to be the next big pop star. Her incredible voice, seasoned songwriting skills, and stunning looks should have catapulted her to the likes of Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande. Her debut album, Unbreakable Smile, was a bit of a bore, though it housed several hidden gems and garnered her a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Then, Tori went silent. She went on an extended hiatus, got married, delved deeper into her faith, and now here we are three years later.
Hiding Place is a soul-infused gospel album that leans heavily on Tori’s strengths as a pop songwriter. Album opener, “Masterpiece,” which features Lecrae, is a quiet introduction to the album. If anything, this is the weakest song on the album, lyrically speaking; even Tori’s jaw-dropping voice cannot breathe life into the clichéd metaphors. Luckily, the album hits its stride with the subsequent track, “Help Us To Love,” which features the HamilTones. This rousing song served as the lead single for the album, and the luscious harmonies and complicated runs prove why. The short album falls into a rut with the next two tracks “Sunday” and “Just As Sure.” These songs move far too slowly and cause the album to drag at an unbearably boring pace. The songs themselves are good, but the album would have benefitted from a change in tracklisting and more uptempo tracks.
The final triad of songs is a vocal masterpiece. The penultimate track, “Never Alone,” is one of the most moving tracks in recent memory. It’s not often that pop stars move from the mainstream and towards gospel music. Tori has created an album that is easily accessible for non-gospel listeners but still a worthy display of her vocal and songwriting prowess.
Key Tracks: “Never Alone,” “Help Us to Love,” “Questions”
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