Unbreakable Smile - Tori Kelly
(Genre: Pop, Singer-Songwriter)
Oh, where to start with this girl? My first impression of her original work was her EP, Handmade Songs by Tori Kelly that she wrote, produced, and released herself. Then after falling in love with her soulful and positive vibe, I did my research and found out that she used to be a contestant on American Idol. Proceeding her time there, she started writing and performing covers on YouTube and steadily grew her following. The EP, strongly led by the single "Confetti", brought her to Scooter Braun and signing to Capitol Records. Her major label debut came in the form of another EP with Dear No One as the standout track which set the perfect stage for this first full LP.
This album, Unbreakable Smile, I'm reviewing now because this has been re-released with two additional tracks. The original version came out last summer with the smash single, "Nobody Love", and followed by "Should've Been Us". These songs, along with the title track, solidified what to expect from this little California girl: uplifting lyrics with a 90's R&B and Pop flair delivered with powerful vocals. With comparisons to JoJo, you can sense a general idea of what you will hear. The great thing you get with this project is a mixture of upbeat songs, endearing ballads, encouraging tunes, and introspective music about life. Seriously, this the kind of album you can turn on and enjoy the ride, with a few guests to carpool like Ed Sheeran and even LL Cool J!
Her Best New Artist Grammy nomination is well deserved as you can tell from this collection of music. The addition of the two songs is nice for those who weren't already in possession of the first version, but a simple purchase of them would suffice. "Hollow" is a grand song in dedication to God in notice of how nothing would be possible without Him. "Something Beautiful" on the other hand is a jazzy, feet-tapping ditty that is the embodiment of positive reinforcement. These songs still fit in well with the original tunes like "Funny" that is played live and displays her raw feelings about trying to maintaining integrity and hope when it seems the hardest to do so.
I certainly can recommend this project to anyone who likes feel-good pop music with a throwback vibe. Personally, my standouts would include "Funny", "Something Beautiful", and "Unbreakable Smile" as mentioned before. Yet, my absolute favorite would be "Talk" with its rhythmic guitar chord progression and hypnotic drum pattern paired with her lilting vocals over the verses. The small change up for the bridge is to die for when it comes to its melody for me and I can't help but replay this song about being upfront & communicating with the ones you love. Her whole aura exudes bringing happiness to the world, and that's a message I would always support. It helps it sung so expertly with her powerful and well trained voice of an angel.
For some cool videos on Tori Kelly: