Album Review

Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Tori Kelly has just released her third studio album, Inspired by True Events. Veering away from her more gospel-centric sophomore effort, *Hiding Place, this latest work focuses on pop stylings while still incorporating gospel undertones.

Over the course of 16 tracks, Tori's songs range from romantic and nostalgic to thoughtful and intimate as fans join her on a vulnerable journey that reflects her personal struggles and triumphs over the last few years—just as the album title suggests.

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“Language” and “Coffee” focus on Tori’s recent marriage to husband André Murillo. The first song hones in on communication and dismissing pride while learning new love languages (“Lord knows I need patience with ya'/So I can explain this to ya'/I’m tryna learn your language, sugar/I just wanna love you, love you, love you good”). The second finds Tori missing her husband when they’re apart (“I envy that cup of coffee that kisses you every morning/That pillow caressing your cheek when you are tired and yawning”).

In “Change Your Mind,” Tori seeks her hesitant father’s blessing for her marriage: “Trust in me/I’ma need your blessing/Oh, I love him/I’m confessing/If it takes my life/I’ma change your mind.”

“Sorry Would Go a Long Way” focuses on Tori’s mother, who longed for relational restoration toward the end of her disintegrating marriage: “You never tell me that you love me/Oh, what a mess of me you’ve made/ … Maybe it’s your ego or just your foolish pride/But it’s like I’m not on your mind.”

Tori clarifies cultural misconceptions in “The Lie” (“They told me the more, the better/Guess the joke’s on me”) and “Pretty Fades” (“Hey television, can’t think straight/Got me believing that I can’t age/Try to convince but I know the truth/There’s something more beautiful than my youth”). “Actress” deals with a woman who desires connection but who also recognizes how difficult it is to be vulnerable while pursuing the spotlight (“She got dreams to be seen on screens by everyone/But underneath truly wants to be known by anyone”).

In “Before the Dawn,” Tori encourages a loved one who is walking through a difficult time: “I can’t say I know what you’re going through/I know you won’t find peace without a war/ … So keep your head up.” God brings Tori peace in “Until I Think of You” (“It hurts no matter what I do/I’m lost without a home/Until I think of You”). A beautiful choir joins the singer as she longs for words of wisdom from her deceased grandfather in “Your Words.”

“3/26/1994,” “8/28/1997” and “12/16/1992” are interludes featuring audio taken from home videos. The first is about Tori’s grandfather praying for her during her baby dedication. The second is a conversation between Tori and her mother, and the third features Tori’s father telling her he loves her.

Tori recalls the innocent, winsome days of childhood in “Kid I Used to Know,” and in “2 Places” she wrestles to balance burdensome emotions.

Objectionable Content

A few lightly sensual lines pop up on “Coffee” as Tori yearns to be with her husband (“Am I crazy to want to hold you like clothes on a body?”).

Summary Advisory

It’s difficult to be open and honest in private. Now imagine steeping out of the private realm and putting your personal stories on display for the world to see. That’s what Tori Kelly has done on Inspired by True Events.

In a YouTube interview on the Zach Sang Show, Tori says that this album is not an up-to-the-minute portrait, but rather a series of snapshots of her life over the past couple of years. She’s dealt with her parents’ divorce, long-distance dating, engagement, growth in marriage and a slew of other transitions that have shaped who she is today.

The result? Inspired by True Events is a creative, engaging and autobiographical pop album that feels both light and heavy at different moments, reminding listeners that that life is full of disparities and joy-filled victories.

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Record Label

Capitol Records




August 9, 2019

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Kristin Smith

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