To anyone not already in the holiday spirit, one album can surely do the trick.
Singer Tori Kelly released her fourth studio album “A Tori Kelly Christmas” on Oct. 30.
Kelly’s self-made music career first gained recognition when her YouTube video song covers, such as Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” and Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.,” went viral in the early 2010s.
Since her early start, she has released two EPs and three studio albums, with her R&B sound evolving in the process.
With her heavily expressed faith, and Gospel-centered second studio album “Hiding Place,” a Christmas album from the artist seemed to be right up her ally.
Kelly has also appeared in various Christmas media from being featured in Pentatonix’s “Winter Wonderland” cover to performing in the 2015 TV special “Michael Bublé’s Christmas in Hollywood.”
Needless to say, fans wanted more of Tori Kelly’s Christmas renditions, and this year she delivered.
The first track has Kelly singing “Silent Night” in a traditional style with a little gospel flare added halfway through. This is a good start to the album, but her songwriting and vocal capabilities truly come out in the second song “25th.”
“25th” describes the only gift that she wants on Christmas, to be with her lover.
An incredible catchy track, “25th” really brings in the fun aspects of holiday music.
Lines like “Sugar plums ain’t half as sweet as you” might be a little cheesy, but the vibe of the song makes up for it.
Overall, it’s a great track that fits in well with the other tradition Christmas songs that surround it.
The next track is a beautiful version of “Christmas Time is Here.” This song was originally sung by the Vice Guaraldi Trio for 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Most people may associate the song with the movie, and brush it off as a simple children’s song similar to the likes of “Frosty the Snowman” or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
Kelly’s version of the track changes that mindset.
Her soft and delicate vocals, accompanied with a series of strings, brings the song in a whole new calming light.
The set of consecutive hits continue on the album with “Joy To The World/Joyful, Joyful.”
Bringing in a gospel choir was a perfect choice to accompany Kelly’s runs in this cover, and the song just escalates in passion leading into the transition to “Joyful, Joyful,” the best part of the track.
The next couple songs give a variety of big band and R&B spins of classic Christmas staples.
“Gift that Keeps on Giving” is the second original of Kelly’s on the album.
It sounds fairly similar to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You,” yet is arguably better, being much less over the top than Carey’s song.
The “Elf” movie interlude comes halfway through the album. At first this seemed like a random song choice. Yet Tori continues to prove that she can do an incredibly unique take of all the songs that she chose on this album.
Longtime R&B artist, Babyface, joins Kelly on their version of “Let it Snow.” This rendition is very smooth, with jazzy instrumentals that make it very similar to other Christmas classics.
Before Kelly’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” finishes the album, one song in particular does the best at showing her growth in talent from her original YouTube days.
Kelly first covered Donny Hathaway’s 1970 hit “This Christmas” in December 2010.
At the time, just an a cappella and beatbox version of the song, she revisits the song here.
It’s a nod to longtime fans of the artist, and, even 10 years later, it can clearly be heard how well her vocals have matured and her music has progressed since then.
Throughout the album, Tori Kelly brings a unique spin on a variety of traditional and secular Christmas songs, with her original songs fitting in perfect with the track list.
A number of artists have come out with Christmas albums of their own in recent years, and it can be hard to pick between the variety out there.
Even with the influx of artists releasing holiday albums, “A Tori Kelly Christmas” stands out among those others due to Kelly’s incredible vocal delivery and passion she has for each song.
As a result, “A Tori Kelly Christmas” will surely “keep on giving” the joy of the holidays for years to come.