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Album Review: Tori Kelly // Unbreakable Smile

Tori Kelly is poised to be the next princess of pop. With a set of powerhouse vocals, and a passion to match her soulfulness, she’s sure to dominate all your playlists this summer.

Fresh off her Much Music Video Awards performance, a performance on Good Morning America, and the release of her music video for ‘Should’ve Been Us’, she found the time to drop her debut album ‘Unbreakable Smile’.

The track-by-track review:

1. Where I Belong– “I’m just a girl with her guitar / trying to give you my whole heart”. Sing it Tori, we hear you loud and clear.

2. Unbreakable Smile– The titular track is anthemic and empowering. “And baby who knows maybe I can sell out shows without taking off my clothes / God made me sexy I don’t care if only I know”. It’s all about staying true to who you are.

3. Nobody Love– The lead single from ‘Unbreakable Smile’ has a heavy soul influence with catchy hip-hop beats to compliment the upbeat melody.

4. Expensive ft. Daye Jack– An old-school sounding track. Reminiscent of Christina Aguilera thanks to the jazzy horns and Tori’s powerful pipes that could rival those of Xtina herself. It whisks us back to the days of bubblegum pop with a good dose of soul.

5. Should’ve Been Us– Another catchy song with an urban, edgy feel. It’s hip, it’s cool, and you can feel the sassiness shine through. Although the song is about regretting not being with the right person, there’s a defiant vibe about it that gives one the impression they’re better off without each other.

6. First Heartbreak– A ballad that is able to stand on it’s own, ‘First Heartbreak’ is emotional and pure. A song that the likes of Sam Smith would be proud to sing.

7. I Was Made For Loving You ft. Ed Sheeran– Just seeing Ed Sheeran’s name is a sign that the song will be endearing. After the first thirty seconds, it’s easy to confirm my suspicions: it’s enchantingly beautiful. Co-written by both Kelly and Sheeran, it’s easy to see why the two are good friends in real life. With folky undertones, and sweet melodies, I have a prediction it will be a popular choice at weddings in the upcoming year.

8. City Dove– As if we didn’t already know her killer range, her voice soars, rises, and falls just like the song.

9. Talk– This goes in a different direction than the rest of the album. At first listen I wasn’t really feeling it, but now it’s grown to be a favourite. It has the hip-hop flavour, and could be mistaken for an old Aaliyah R&B song (in the best way possible).

10. Funny– An uplifting song about how everything works itself out in the end.

11. Art of Letting You Go– Anyone who’s ever gone through a breakup can easily relate to this tune.

12. California Lovers ft. LL Cool J– Drenched in sunshine and good vibes, you feel elated and bubbly. Surprisingly, LL Cool J’s part adds an unexpected funky twist, making you feel as though summer love is endless. One can easily conjure up every carefree summer memory while listening to this track.

13. Falling Slow– A soulful track that has a Destiny’s Child-esque feel.

14. Anyway– Exuberant and bouncy, showcasing her rapping skills which she pulls off with admirable flow.

Overall, the album seeks to redefine the merging of contemporary R&B with pop music.

“I would hope that my music can inspire people and stand out in a way that is really just me pouring my heart out into my music. If nothing else, there are no gimmicks. There’s nothing that’s fake. Everything I’m doing is just me being me. I hope that would inspire other people in some way, in whatever they’re doing in their lives.”    -Tori, via an interview with Rolling Stone

Article by Natalie Harmsen

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