All in My Head
Although Tori Kelly’s 2012 EP is titled Handmade Songs, the tracks don’t really sound handmade; they resonate with flawless and pristine radio-ready productions. Yet they technically are handmade—Kelly happens to have a high-end recording studio in her Southern California home. Pop music has been her lifelong ambition. She appeared on Star Search at age 10 before competing in America's Most Talented Kids two years later. After getting signed and then dropped before recording an album, she was a contestant on season nine of American Idol. And you can hear all this ambition pouring out of her voice in the immediately gripping opener, “Stained.” Here she sings passionately over an electric guitar as a dynamic progression of percussion, fingersnaps, and vocal harmonies gradually layer into the tune. “Eyelashes” simmers down into charming R&B balladry with a slow-burning funk rhythm steaming up the song. “All in My Head” is a similarly sultry groover, while “Celestial” is the most alluring song here, with a hypnotic 6/8 rhythm and inviting melody.