‘A Tori Kelly Christmas’ Album Review

In Christmas tradition, Tori Kelly is the latest singer to release her own seasonal album. The Sing star teased the release of A Tori Kelly Christmas all throughout October until its launch on Oct. 30. On Instagram, she gushed about wanting to put out a Christmas album for a very long time. She detailed her gratefulness at the opportunity to work under the guidance of singer Babyface, who produced the album. Moreover, she described the album as a mix of covers of classic songs and also new original music. Here is a brief track by track breakdown of the songs on A Tori Kelly Christmas:

  1. Silent Night

Tori Kelly’s cover of “Silent Night” can only be described as soothing. As if the original song didn’t already emit peaceful vibes, Kelly’s cover balances a modern take on the song while also maintaining its ‘religious’ and almost gospel integrity. The slow but present beat accompanied by a piano at times resembles an R&B style of cover. Above all, Kelly’s vocals are the vehicle that carry the entire song. Towards the latter half of the track, she belts her iconic riffs of the original lyrics to add her own unmatchable touch to one of the most classically loved and covered Christmas songs.

2. 25th

The second track on the album is an original song co-written by Kelly. The love song is dedicated to that special someone, describing the desire to have nothing other than them on Christmas. For an original song, Kelly has managed to create a unique, yet catchy tune that is sure to be on every Target or Macy’s commercial this season (and that’s a compliment!). The song simply radiates festivity in every single word. Not only is it a feel-good track, but is sure to put you in an unmistakably Christmas mood at any given time. With its smooth jazzy flow, “25th” is a great example of how an original Christmas song can still be easy-to-love.

3. Christmas Time Is Here

If there is a track on A Tori Kelly Christmas that will give you chills, it’s definitely this one! The background music of “Christmas Time Is Here” is barely audible and is instead impressively replaced with Tori Kelly’s voice, which easily accounts for at least 80% of all sound in the song. That being said, her voice is not at all aggressive but has a hypnotic airy quality that is entrancing and unpredictable. Without strong supporting music, the track is one of the milder songs on the album and one that was an interesting choice to cover given its rather dreary tone.

4. Joy To The World / Joyful, Joyful

Tori Kelly’s cover of “Joy To The World” mashed up with “Joyful, Joyful” once again brings a gospel feel to the album. The track is certainly one of the best in showcasing Kelly’s talent as a vocalist as her range is tested everywhere from the her lower voice all the way to notes that are borderline whistle. The song starts off classical and slow, but quickly picks up to a cover reminiscent of that of a choir — complete with the backup vocals! Imagine: this track is the perfect ending to your best, most unbeatable Christmas.

5. Sleigh Ride

Surprisingly, the rendition of “Sleigh Ride” on A Tori Kelly Christmas is one of a slower, more sensual tempo. It is far more mellow than more of the upbeat tracks on the album. Moreover, besides the actual lyrics, the song is entirely its own. It loses most of the original song’s melody — but not necessarily in a bad way. After all, how many “covers” of the same exact tune (I know you’re hearing it in your head right this very instant) can we have if they all sound too similar? Like “Silent Night,” there is a heavy R&B influence throughout the song while still showcasing Kelly’s poppy voice.

6. O Holy Night

The next track on the album is another cover of a more religious Christmas song. Perhaps with purpose to have respect for that aspect of the song, Tori Kelly keeps “O Holy Night” slow and meaningful. Each lyric contains a level of soul that continually highlights the spiritual essence of the original song. The cover is full of the emotion from the lyrics along with passion coming from Kelly’s rising confidence that can easily bring listeners to tears. Tori Kelly’s cover of “O Holy Night” is experiential to say the least.

7. Gift That Keeps On Giving

In another original holiday love song, Kelly sings to a lover about how much their love continues to be a treat for her. Although the song is brand new, Kelly manages to instill a sense of nostalgia within the track. It’s something comfortable that you feel like you’ve heard before, so you’re surprised to find out that it was newly written for the album! That may not sound like a great thing, but many original holiday songs struggle to find their place among the staples. “Gift That Keeps On Giving” is a feel-good holiday song that makes you want to grab your loved ones by the hands and twirl around your living room in the sea of wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

8. Elf Interlude

In an adorable less-than-one-minute addition to the album, A Tori Kelly Christmas includes a catchy short tune that impressively layers vocals of Kelly harmonizing with herself. While there are no actual lyrics, her soft voice pleasantly tiptoes across an “It’s A Small World” type of tune. P.S. “Elf Interlude” could not be appropriately named; it sounds exactly like you’d think it would!

9. Let It Snow

Who doesn’t love a cabaret version of “Let It Snow?” Now, I’ll admit that this rendition is not exactly the most original sounding song on this album, it is beautifully produced. In a way, this track kind of ties the album back to the classicalness of Christmas since the rest of it is pretty original material in some way or another. The cover also features singer Babyface (who also produces the album) dueting with Kelly. Their smooth, youthful voices complement one another well for a fun cover of one of the easiest-to-remember holiday songs out there.

10. O Come, O Come Emmanuel / O Come All Ye Faithful

Similarly to “Christmas Time Is Here,” this track starts off by taking on a rather somber tone. The song is quiet, but impactful; a sound that soothes something deep inside. It picks up a bit when Tori Kelly transitions into “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Still, there is a cinematic quality to the entire song with the sound of classical orchestral instruments carrying the melody in the background. Kelly’s voice becomes increasingly powerful with the intensifying instruments in the background, resulting in a song that is solemnly beautiful.

11. Go Tell It On The Mountain

Tori Kelly’s cover of this religious Christmas song is surprisingly modern, considering her more ‘true’ renditions of similarly religiously themed songs. That being said, the rhythmic flare she gives to “Go Tell It On The Mountain” works very well in the way that it doesn’t feel as generic as other versions of the song. Once again, Kelly has found a way to make a classic song sound like her own. This track displays her creative diversity in taking something that was already known for it’s catchy sound and reworking it while somehow still maintaining the original flow of the song. Personally, I definitely wasn’t expecting to enjoy this track as much as I did!

12. This Christmas

This version of “This Christmas” is probably the most pop-music-forward track on A Tori Kelly Christmas. In that way, this song adds something to the album by being the own of its kind in a sea of classic and R&B-inspired Christmas songs. Moreover, Kelly holds nothing back in belting her incredible voice on numerous occasions throughout the song. It’s nearly impossible to stop at least once and think “Dang, this girl can really sing!” This is pretty impressive since she is able to go off on these high notes so coherently that the song doesn’t feel like overkill or become irritatingly disjointed at any point.

13. Hallelujah (from Sing original motion picture soundtrack)

The final track on A Tori Kelly Christmas is the full length cover of “Hallelujah” from the Sing original motion picture soundtrack. This song offers sentimentality on quite a few different levels. For one, the song in itself has such positive, feel-good vibes — it fits right in on this album. It’s not really considered a classic Christmas song, but this cover shows just why it can be. Moreover, featuring such a powerful song from the film that shot Kelly into mainstream stardom must mean something dear to her heart. She’s often recounted facing rejection within her career, but still finding the strength to persist — which is just what this song is about. Her story, experience, and dedication are all truly felt in every note of this cover, making it the perfect, most fitting end to her very near-and-dear-to-her-heart first Christmas album.


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