Music review: Tori Kelly - ‘Inspired by True Events’

After singing the praises of a more heavenly nature on her last release, Tori Kelly follows 2018’s “Hiding Place” with a third album that possesses far-reaching emotions from a very personal level.

“Inspired by True Events” is the 26-year-old singer-songwriter’s latest effort featuring impassioned tracks that deliver vivid musical landscapes about the things that have been happening in the California native’s life over the last few years. As a result, Kelly wears her emotions on her sleeve as she sings about love, loss, struggles and triumph through the blending of infectious pop, smooth R&B and vibrant blues elements to produce an engaging look into Kelly’s heart and soul.

“I envy the cup of coffee that kisses you every morning/That pillow caressing your cheek when you are tired and yawning,” sings Kelly on the opening track. “Coffee” speaks of a long-distance relationship that has Kelly wishing she could be next to the one she loves on a permanent basis.

Parental approval to marry is sought by Kelly on “Change Your Mind.” Kelly professes her love for her beau and tries wholeheartedly to convince her father that she’s found Mr. Right as she proclaims, “He came to me like a song/Like one I knew all along/And daddy, he got a hold on me.”

The bluesy vibe to “Language” adds a soulful stream to the message of working on a relationship for the long run by building a foundation of trust through the slow process of truly understanding each other’s needs.

“Sorry Would Go a Long Way” examines the pain and heartache experienced when parents decide to call it quits. Kelly has some strong words directed at her father when she sings, “I feel the times are changing, and maybe you are too/I’m the same old me, but you’re a different you/So be a man about it, and admit you’ve done me wrong.”

Other highlights include the search for inner beauty and things that last on “Pretty Fades,” the struggle of being pulled in different directions on “2 Places” and the desire to escape from adulthood and return to the simpler days of youth with “Kid I Used to Know.”

The final two tracks bring the set to a touching close. “Your Words” tugs at the heartstrings as Kelly sings about the passing of her grandfather as she confesses, “Every part of me misses every part of you/And with all the chaos in my world/I could really use your words.”

“Before the Dawn” serves as a touching voice of encouragement to a friend going through a difficult time. Kelly speaks from experience as she sings about it always being darkest before the dawn.

Kelly continues to make a big splash with her strong songwriting and lush voice by continuing to grow and push herself as both an artist and individual.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at

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