Review: Tori Kelly’s Hiding Place

5 months ago Triangle 0

Written by: Samantha Burgess, assistant editor

Tori Kelly rests in the Gospel with sophomore album “Hiding Place”

Tori Kelly debuted her sophomore album, “Hiding Place”, on Sept. 14 through Capitol Records. Her album includes eight Gospel inspired tracks, featuring artists such as Lecrae, the Hamiltones, Kirk Franklin and Jonathan McReynolds.

Kelly’s first album, “Unbreakable Smile,” appeared at number two on the Billboard 200 when it debuted in 2015. The album was infused with modern pop and soul, with 14 tracks discussing her experience with love and overcoming struggles in the music industry.

Her transition to Gospel music for her sophomore album, while a surprise for some, was a long time coming for Kelly. She’d planned on featuring a Gospel track on this upcoming album, but after meeting Kirk Franklin and listening to some songs he recently wrote, Kelly knew she had to make an entire Gospel album, with strong vocals and a message of hope for others.

Kelly named the album “Hiding Place” based on Psalm 32:7. She said the verse struck her because of the idea that God is a place of safety where you can hide from the trials of this world.  

“I want people to feel uplifted and encouraged when they listen,” explains Kelly. “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, even when you’re in a dark place.”

As a long time supporter of Kelly, I have anticipated a Gospel album from her, especially after hearing her testimony. Kelly has been a part of the music industry since the age of twelve. Because she found her identity in singing and pleasing others, she was devastated each time a door in the industry closed for her. Kelly finally reached a point where all she could do was turn to Christ for guidance. Once she did, she found opportunities she hadn’t thought of such as writing Gospel music.

“Hiding Place” for me was simple but soulful and lyrically rich. Each song discusses the love of Christ and His ability to help us overcome the struggles we face.

I enjoyed the message and upbeat tempo of the first track, “Masterpiece” featuring Lecrae. The track talks about how God can turn our weaknesses into a masterpiece. Lecrae’s rap verse further emphasizes this message and brings up an important point not to compare yourself with others.   

The next track, “Help Us to Love” featuring the Hamiltones, has one of the most important messages on the track and directly addresses the issues of society today. Kelly discusses the pain and trials in today’s society and how we constantly feel the need to be against each other. In the end, Kelly sings that the love of Christ triumphs the hate of this world. The Hamiltons harmonize beautifully with Kelly and the track allows her vocal range to shine.

Sunday”, the third track, gives me mixed feelings. I don’t like the music arrangement, however, the lyrics address how even as Christians, we are imperfect beings and only through grace are we relieved of our sin. We shouldn’t just portray ourselves to others as the “Sunday version” of ourselves, but as an authentic follower of Christ who struggles at times just like everyone else.

Jonathan McReynolds voice blends beautifully with Kelly’s on the fourth track, “Just as Sure.” I enjoyed the inclusion of the the guitar in this arrangement and the lyrics, which talk about how the love of God is as constant as the changing of the seasons and present in every situation we face.

The following tracks “Psalm 42” and “Questions” talk about issues of the soul. “Psalm 42” has a slow, soft arrangement and infuses verses from Psalm 42 into the lyrics. It talks about how the temporal things of the world will never satisfy us and how only God can satisfy our soul. “Questions” also has a slower tempo, as well as a melodic piano arrangement. The lyrics talk about coming to terms with death and questioning the presence of God in our darkest moments of life. Kelly wrestles with the fatalistic view of the world and knowing that God’s plan is higher than ours.

The seventh track, “Never Alone” featuring Kirk Franklin, is another track that showcases the power behind Kelly’s voice. I am often encouraged by the soulful arrangement of this song, along with the lyrics that talk about how God is there even in our darkest times. The last track, “Soul’s Anthem (It is Well)” is a combination of original music and the familiar hymn “It is Well With My Soul”. The goosebump inducing acapella arrangement is my favorite from the album. The song talks about surrendering complete control to God and allowing your soul to rest in His grace.

Overall, this album is a true representation of the love and rest we find in Christ. When I am down and struggling in my faith, I find myself listening to this album and being encouraged by the messages of each track. I hope to see Kelly make more Gospel albums in the future.

Samantha Burgess is a Junior majoring in communication with an emphasis in digital media and is an assistant editor for the Triangle. Burgess loves her Creator and the Arts.