Hiding Place is the second studio album by American singer Tori Kelly, produced by Kirk Franklin. It was released on September 14, 2018, through School Boy Records and Capitol Records. It is primarily a gospel album with R&B and jazz influences.
Singer Tori Kelly pivots away from the secular pop of her platinum-selling 2015 album, Unbreakable Smile, and delivers a joyful set of faith-based songs that balance contemporary gospel soulfulness with warm R&B hooks. Given Kelly’s move to a sleek contemporary gospel vibe, her fans who came on board with previous singles like Dear No One and Could’ve Been Us might worry that she has sacrificed some of her own personality and acoustic guitar-based style in service of fitting into a specific genre box.
Thankfully, while there is an overall tonal shift here, the results feel organic and true to who Kelly, a practicing Christian, seems to be. One of the pleasing aspects of Hiding Place is the organic soundscape Franklin and Kelly achieve, deftly combining Stevie Wonder-esque ’70s instrumentation with an ear for the ringing, sleek gospel productions Franklin is known for.
In a recent interview with Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell, Tori Kelly revealed her intentions on naming the album Hiding place saying, “There’s a verse that I’ve just always loved, and I’ve always been drawn to, it’s Psalms 33:7 and it says, ‘You are a hiding place for me, you surround me with Psalms of deliverance.’”
Just as she does, she wants everyone listening to be able to feel the passion and refuge in her songs for God. She mixes her pop style with very soulful beats, old hymns, and singing ability. She has shown her ability to sing pop music to country gracefully and she does it again here going to Gospel.
“With gospel music, you can’t sing without all your heart being in it,” says Tori Kelly. “This album was an opportunity to do what I felt and never hold back. I could just be free and let the song take me over.”
Every song on the eight-track album resonates differently as far as tone. Some songs are more up-tempo and have more of a popish feel to them and some are more traditional with hints of pop vibes from the beats or her voice. The album starts on a high powered, cheerful beginning and ends as if we are at church playing worship music. Though it is a short album, you feel as if you’ve sat through one of the most entertaining sermons of your life.
Tracks like the opening Masterpiece, featuring rapper Lecrae, and the buoyant Sunday find Franklin framing Kelly’s highly resonant voice with vibrant gospel backing vocalists, organ, and crisp bass grooves. Elsewhere, Kelly is joined by Anthony Hamilton‘s vocal trio, the Hamiltones, on the passionate Help Us to Love, and displays her knack for earnest, emotive balladry on the thoughtful Psalm 42. Franklin himself joins her on the uplifting Never Alone, as does singer Jonathan McReynolds for the laid-back acoustic guitar number Just as Sure.
Watch Never Alone here:
She doesn’t do anything spectacular with the melodies, but it was everything needed to fulfill this album. She takes you through deep-rooted emotions on songs like Questions where she uses a basic piano and violin beat. In a sense, it is a very relatable album that many people will be able to feel and identify with. She does the genre of Gospel music justice.
Hiding Place included a few gospels and Christian hip hop favorites. Headlining the features were Kirk Franklin, Lecrae, The HamilTones, and Jonathan McReynolds, who all complimented the album in an elegant way. She also included a choir in multiple songs which really brought out the Gospel feel of the album. Tori Kelly does not by any means shy away from letting people know what this album is all about. It is true to its genre. The hymns and all.
The most surprising thing about this album that really makes it stand out is that she didn’t plan on making it in the first place. She just happened to start writing one Gospel song and linked with Kirk Franklin and from there Hiding Place was born.
Watch Psalms 42 here:
It is a project that she is was very excited to release. This is the album that you ride to church to on Sunday morning’s or get ready to on a great sunny day. The smooth acoustics and the production behind the project were masterful. The only thing holding this album back is how short it is, which isn’t really much of an issue considering the content.
In all, there’s not much anyone can take away from Tori Kelly in this album, as she has once again shown that she has no box when it comes to music. Compared to her last albums and EP’s, this is her best work yet. With this being only her second album, she looks as if she has a high ceiling and is here to stay.
She may be one of those singers we talk about for years to come. Although we do not know what she’ll do next, everyone will be waiting to see what genre she may dip into next. Fans hope that she will continue to think outside of the box on future projects.