Tori Kelly’s new album, Inspired by True Events, is out right now.
The album marks a change in direction from the tone of her 2015 debut album, Unbreakable Smile. Like her 2018 passion project Hiding Place – winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album, with hit single “Never Alone” named Best Gospel Performance/Song – Inspired by True Events keeps closely centered on her warm yet powerful vocal presence and extraordinary range. But this time around, Tori brings even greater depth to her songwriting, examining events that have shaken her world in recent years.
“At first I was worried about whether people would want to hear these kinds of stories from me, but then I got to the point where I didn’t let that hold me back – I just had to write about what was really going on in my life,” says Tori.
Jimmy Napes (Sam Smith, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige), who co-wrote and co-produced most of the album with Tori, helped her make that leap. The first song of their London sessions was lead single Change Your Mind – Tori’s soulful response to learning that her parents disapproved of her engagement.
Tori recalls, “As we were writing it, there was a line where I felt like I was getting too honest and personal. Jimmy just stopped me and said, ‘If it feels uncomfortable, that’s when you know you need to say it.’”
Check out an unplugged performance for Coffee.
“Sorry Would Go a Long Way” provides the most painfully charged moment on Inspired by True Events. With its stark acoustic guitar work, the timeless ballad finds Tori’s vocals turning heartbreakingly fragile as she assumes her mother’s point-of-view at the time of her parents’ separation. She co-wrote the track with British singer-songwriter Bruno Major, who also plays acoustic guitar on the track, and Napes. Tori wistfully recalls the simplicity of childhood on the luminous “Kid I Used to Know” and pays tribute to the wisdom of her late Jamaican-born grandfather on “Your Words.”
“The first time I listened to the record all the way through, it felt like I was watching a movie of someone else’s life,” Tori notes. To augment that cinematic quality, she laced the album with interludes crafted from old home movies, including a clip of her father declaring his love for his then-two-day-old daughter.
Idolator predicted, “[Inspired by True Events is] destined to be one of the best albums of 2019” and hailed “Sorry Would Go A Long Way” as “intimate and heartfelt.” Rolling Stone said, “‘Change Your Mind’ is acoustic and unhurried. Swelling pianos and massed backing vocals serve to push the song towards a climax.” VIBE praised how the song “allows the musician’s soaring vocals and delicate story to permeate.”