“That’s what this album is: when I’m singing these songs, I feel like I’m safe!“
Inside the Hiding Place
Tori Kelly takes us deep within her journey of faith with her newest project, “Hiding Place“. The imprint of her faith is abundantly clear as she puts her signature sounds on sacred soul, contemporary christian and gospel styled songs. Kirk Franklin took the reins of the project as producer and has steered Kelly in the right artistic direction, punctuating the best of her vocal capability with each song choice and arrangement. The album is also another gem for Franklin who remains at the top of the gospel music hierarchy as an artist, producer and songwriter. He co-wrote four of the eight songs with Kelly, a first for him but you can sense his masterful musical movement throughout the project.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.Psalm 32:7
While speaking about the album on SoulProsper Radio “On the Record” Kelly says about her faith: “This is real to me, my faith is real and I can’t help but sing about it. I hope that people are somehow affected, even if they don’t necessarily believe what I believe, just that they would hear my heart and be encouraged…be uplifted and somehow know that there’s a God that loves them and will help them get through whatever they’re going through.”
Tori Kelly burst on the scene with her debut Unbreakable Smile in 2015 which premiered at #2 on the Billboard 200. From there, her star rose even higher with her soaring rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing” on the critically acclaimed animated film “Sing”. The song was a hit with not only children but their parents who have more than likely heard a fair share of covers, though nothing like Kelly’s ownership of it in the film as “Meena” the singing elephant.
Nationwide insurance rolled out a series of commercials starring Kelly singing and playing the guitar and coupled with the enormous success of “Sing”, fans couldn’t get enough of Kelly. Then, she appeared on the 33rd Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards with The Hamiltones singing “Help Us to Love”. What at the time seemed as another project for Kirk Franklin was the precursor to and first single from “Hiding Place”. Also appearing on the album with Kelly are: Jonathan McReynolds and Lecrae. Last year, Kelly and Lecrae teamed up on “I’ll Find You” which caught many fans of both artists a little off guard, despite blazing the Good Morning America and MTV TRL stages on the way to spending 29 weeks on the Billboard chart and resting atop the chart following its July 2017 release.
“Masterpiece” (ft. Lecrae) opens the album with a flash bang and quickly draws listeners in with “Help Us to Love” and continuously reveals a little more with each track until its beautifully soaring closes “Souls Anthem (It Is Well)” The album is a complete amalgam of her range and style but the first taste we get of what we know of Tori Kelly meets us on “Sunday“. She doesn’t wait to worship on the weekends and brilliantly tells us what’s beyond we can see, “don’t let Sunday fool ya, here’s my hallelujah. Every single day, I’m running to your grace.”
When presented with the idea of a duet, one name came up, that of Jonathan McReynolds. “I’ve been a fan of Jonathan for so long…we were in the studio with Kirk and this was the first day that we started working together and he played me this song and we were both like ‘you know, this would be a really cool opportunity for a duet, who should we get?’ I was like, ‘do you know Jonathan McReynolds?’ Before I could even process what was going on, he had him on the phone and he was asking him ‘hey do you want to come out tomorrow to do this song with Tori Kelly?’ right away and he was there the next day.”
The two match wits on the acoustic guitar driven ballad celebrating God’s love for us: “Just As Sure” and in the process perform one of the sickest runs in music in tandem! If you think you had a hard time re-creating McReynold’s intro to “Cycles“, you’ll surely need some practice on this one!
Continuing to cover all the bases of gospel music today, Psalm 42 forays into the realm of contemporary christian music as Kelly confesses the refrain “I need you Lord!”
Next up, the pensive “Questions” asks the queries many of us seek answers to. “What if the healing never comes? Do we stand and curse the Heavens or lift our hands and feel the sun? The mystery’s not clear just once your voice I’d love to hear, what happens when the healing never comes?” While we all have questions, some of us are in deep despair. To that, Kelly and Franklin team up to let you know that you’re “Never Alone“, This is Franklin’s sweet spot and his imprint is all over the track which features a choir taking it home. Franklin has termed the sound of “Hiding Place” as “hope-pop” and “Never Alone” is its definitive track as it features all the elements of classic pop and gospel collaborations. In short, it’s the quintessential Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin collaboration. This song could also work as a ccm/gospel crossover and would certainly do well on the airwaves for either audience.
Kirk Franklin got his start as a choirmaster and the choral arranging on “Soul’s Anthem (It Is Well)” stands tall. Reminiscent of the evolution of gospel music spurred by his groundbreaking work with “The Family”, you’ll hear Franklin’s undeniable imprint in its purest, modern form as the choir accompanies Kelly a cappella.
“I want them to know that, no matter what they’re going through, there’s a God who loves them so much and so unconditionally, and there’s always a reason to feel hope. That’s what I really believe in, and I want everyone out there to hear my heart.”Tori Kelly