'Solitude' Review: Tori Kelly's new EP is gorgeously sunny, catchy and a blanket of comfort for the weary soul

Kelly will be performing every song from the EP on Wednesday, August 19, on the virtual reality platform MelodyVR

                            'Solitude' Review: Tori Kelly's new EP is gorgeously sunny, catchy and a blanket of comfort for the weary soul
Tori Kelly (Getty Images/Jason Kempin)

Contemporary R&B singer Tori Kelly has released her new extended play, 'Solitude', Friday, on August 14, marking her first EP in seven years since 'Foreword'.

Along with its release, the 'American Idol' alum and multi-Grammy-winning artiste will be performing the EP in its entirety live for the first time ever on the virtual reality platform, MelodyVR, as part of its acclaimed 'Live from LA' series. Fans can watch the exclusive event for free via the MelodyVR app on smartphones and VR headsets when it airs on Wednesday, August 19, at 9 pm ET. The ongoing 'Live from LA' series was created to provide audiences with incredible up-close, 360° sets from their favorite artistes, while maintaining the highest levels of safety for both performers and crew. 

For the show, Kelly explained in a press statement, “I can’t wait to perform Solitude for you all from the MelodyVR studio, Live from LA. I recorded these new songs in my home studio during quarantine, so it’s extra special to be able to perform them live for the first time in such an intimate setting — it’s just you, me and my guitar.”

According to a press statement, 'Solitude' was recorded by Kelly at her home during quarantine "with a fresh musical outlook inspired by both the 90s R&B that she grew up with and her early days as an aspiring singer-songwriter". Praised by critics for her warm presence and candid lyrics, Kelly's new EP serves well showcase such qualities. Even though some of its lyrics are seemingly born out pain or bad past experiences, 'Solitude' is a blanket of comfort for the weary soul.

Tori Kelly performs at Christmas at The Grove: A Festive Tree Lighting celebration at The Grove on November 17, 2019, in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images/Tibrina Hobson)


With its first track, 'Value', rolls in buttery smooth. Over a finger-snapping rhythm and sultry acoustic guitar, Kelly harmonizes with several layers of her own voice, singing, "Been a few months since we had first started talking. Guess it was all a big front 'cause you were never tryna lock it down. Should’ve known better, you a player from the start. I should've known better instead of giving you my heart, yeah. You got some nerve saying, 'We could still be friends.' This is where our story ends".  

'Don't Take Me Home' opens with bluesy electric guitar and pops into a palpitated beat as the singer pours out her heart for her lover. The stunning track encompasses all the fantasy, escapism and flirtatiousness of a date with a lover while dropping tasteful hints of intimacy. The result is a track that is sexy without coming off too strong but rather airy and subtle.

It takes a notable amount of bravery to put a track to a record with barely any instrumental backing. In 'Time Flies', Kelly is backed by softened acoustic guitar riffing and sings one of the more emotional songs on the EP, proving that her vocal versatility is something she's unafraid to let shine. With lines such as "Who am I? All the people 'round me ride or they die. Gotta watch the time 'cause it's flyin' right by" and "Certain things just started gettin' tenser. Think we need to have us an adventure" and "Rather see my heart turn crystal", Kelly's heart-on-sleeve lyrics seem to provide her with "solitude" in uncertainty. 

Sonically, traces of '90s R&B can be found on the EP, particularly in 'Unbothered'. The song encapsulates all the joyous feelings of the era with brass, claps, minimalistic basslines and more. 'Glad' highlights Kelly's smooth vocal gymnastics over finger-clicks and synth. 'Solitude' is gorgeously sunny, relaxing, catchy and melancholic only to the point of self-reflection and may very well be one of Tori Kelly's best projects yet.

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