Week of 8/18/2019 – Music recommendation: Tori Kelly’s “Inspired by True Events“
Surprise! I’m back with yet another Tori Kelly plug / promo-post / album review. Hopefully by now, you know how big of a Tori Kelly supporter I am, and if not, you must be a new follower, so hi! Back from almost a three-year hiatus before releasing any new music (Kelly released her Grammy-award winning Gospel album ‘Hiding Place’ in 2018), Tori Kelly came back full-force with “Inspired by True Events.”
Music is a universal language that has the power to inspire young minds to express themselves in a healthy, positive way. Tori Kelly is one of the few artists using her gifts to inspire and uplift, and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate her vulnerability and honesty with this album. She approached it with love and care, and you can hear it in each note, harmony, and lyric. Apart from being incredibly well-written and featuring unreal vocal capabilities, “Inspired by True Events” just sounds like a more mature sound from Tori—if you listen to her debut album, “Unbreakable Smile,” one can say it was sort of a mix of genres; as if Tori was experimenting with a plethora of sounds to really find her niche. When it comes to “Inspired by True Events,” what we hear is a much more cohesive-sounding album, with Tori going back to her acoustic and even “Urban-inspired” roots. Although Tori is a rare gem that can pretty much sing whatever genre she wants, it is nice to hear a much more developed sound from her.
I gave myself a full week (and a half) to really process just how amazing Tori’s third full-length album is, but even now, I still find trouble conjuring up the right words to describe the emotional roller coaster that comes with listening to it in its entirety. My opinion may be biased because I am a Tori fan, but if I were to take myself away from that group for a second, my opinion would still stand because I am first and foremost a music lover: “Inspired by True Events” is one of my favorite albums this year.
With four interludes consisting of audio from family home videos, “Inspired by True Events” essentially works as Tori’s “autobiography”: we are given an inside look in to Tori’s joy from her past, experiences and pain from her present, all while remaining hopeful for her future. The interludes perfectly transition in to each track and lightly tease what’s to come. Covering topics such as a recent marriage and shifts in a family dynamic, love and loss, self-love and society’s definition of beauty, and mental health and hope, Tori really strikes every emotional chord throughout the album.
Tori kicks off the album with a fan-favorite from her recent Acoustic Sessions Tour, “Coffee.” The track opens with what sounds like an insane ten-part harmony (all vocals by Tori by the way) and the lyrics, “I envy the cup of coffee that kisses you in the morning.” This song is the perfect opener to introduce listeners to her new sound and speaks of the trials that come with a long-distance relationship; something that can relate to almost anyone. It is a song that merely scratches the surface as to how personal Tori is going to get in the album. The interlude, “12/16/1992” directly follows the track and features her parents talking to a baby Tori two days after she was born. The tracks to follow, “Change Your Mind,” “Language,” and “2 Places” are all songs that speak of the mental hardships she experienced before, during, and after marriage.
The second part of the album with songs following “8/28/1997,” (an adorable interlude with 5-year-old Tori talking about wanting to sing in her bathing suit), compare and contrast the innocence of childhood with the harsh realities of adulthood. While “Kid I Used to Know” takes on a more nostalgic look into the past, “Pretty Fades” is a song that reminds us that while outer beauty may eventually fade, inner beauty is everlasting.
Following “3/2/1991,” (an instrumental interlude dedicated to her parent’s wedding anniversary I assume) are songs dedicated to recent life experiences. The heart-wrenching ballad, “Sorry Would Go A Long Way” kicks off the third part of this album and will probably leave you in a puddle of tears. In a recent interview with Zach Sang, Tori spoke briefly about how her parents split up, and how this song was therapeutically penned as a result. Her vocals in this track express such pain and heartache, and one can hear just how difficult this song must have been to write—it’s genuine and raw; anything you can ask for in a ballad. As if to take us away from the sadness, Tori immediately transitions in to more upbeat songs about firsthand experiences in the entertainment industry with “Actress” and “The Lie.” Because balance is always a part of life, Tori then brings the waterworks again with “Until I Think of You,” an ode calling out God as she goes through emotional distress and symptoms of depression.
To keep the waterworks flowing, “3/26/1994” (an interlude featuring her grandfather doing her baby dedication) is followed with another heartbreaking ballad, “Your Words.” Dedicated to her grandfather, Tori pleads to hear his voice in times of life’s chaos. If you’ve experienced the soul-aching moment(s) of losing a loved one, this song will automatically bring you back to them and make you reminiscent of every conversation, every story, and every moment you’ve shared with them. Not only do Tori’s vocals make this an extremely powerful ballad, but the choir at the bridge of the song, will make you feel all the emotions at once. Listen with caution if you don’t want to cry.
Tori closes the album with a final ballad, “Break of Dawn.” Featuring a beautiful harp / strings instrumental, it blends perfectly well with the message of hope she is relaying. She repeats the lyrics, “What’s a rose without a thorn” and “Keep your head up, my love,” as a way of reaching out to listeners who may need the extra encouragement to keep going. Life can have its fair share of joy and despair, and at one time or another, when it feels like there is no way out of the darkness, it is a beautiful thing to know that there is a song out there that will inspire you to keep a glimmer of hope alive.
“Inspired by True Events” is an album that will spark every emotion. The relatability of each message Tori aims to relay to listeners is undeniable. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic or just need songs that speak words of hope and truth, allow Tori’s gorgeous vocals and superb songwriting take you to a place of solitude. This is the album you won’t know you needed until you listen to it.
Tori Kelly’s “Inspired by True Events” is out everywhere now.