October 30, 2020 Tori Kelly – A Tori Kelly Christmas (Album Review)
A talented singer-songwriter, Tori Kelly first gained recognition after posting videos on YouTube as a teenager, soon after appearing as a semi-finalist on the ninth season of American Idol in 2010. Signed to Capitol Records since 2013, she quickly made an impact on charts with her 2015 album Unbreakable Smile, followed by Hiding Place in 2018, and most recently, the powerful Inspired by True Events in 2019. A passionate, soulful voice, that lays somewhere between Pop and classic R&B, it would only make sense for her to put her voice to some traditional songs, right? Well, she does just that with her newly released A Tori Kelly Christmas, out on Friday, October 30, 2020 via Capitol Records.
Her fourth overall album, and first ever Holiday release, it is an interesting listen on various levels. For one, as stated, Kelly as the perfect voice for this type of music. Second, it features production and a guest vocal spot from the incomparable Babyface, a singer-songwriter and producer who is a legend. Additionally, the song selection is a good balance of Christmas standards, but also a couple of original tunes written by Kelly herself.
This in mind, A Tori Kelly Christmas comes at you with 13 songs which include timeless classics such as “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World/Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” “Slide Ride,” “O Holy Night,” “Let it Snow,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel / O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “This Christmas,” but also the highly spiritual “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” All easily recognizable, and naturally deeply emotional, Kelly’s renditions are heartfelt, passionate, and quite ear-tingling. In enough words, she does not veer far from each song’s original structures, but projects a feeling that is so real and so beautiful in her performance. Then there are original songs such as “25th” and “Gift That Keeps on Giving,” both which have a modern flare, but could fit wonderfully on anyone’s Holiday playlist. Which leads us to the finale, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” which is so well-executed you cannot help but feel it deep inside of your soul.
It goes without saying, Tori Kelly has an angel-like voice, but what makes it so great is she knows how to use it. That in mind, it is a brilliant fit for the Christmas songs selected for this album. Furthermore, the arrangements of each song on the album are catchy, melodic, but also very tastefully arranged. However the arrangement turned out, it all sounds wonderful and come together like a puzzle. Songs rich in sound and deeply seeded in real feelings, get ready to get into the Christmas/Holiday mood with A Tori Kelly Christmas, it is well worth it. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars.