Tori Kelly’s first release since her 2020 Christmas album is, in part, a love letter to Y2K-era R&B. The singer-songwriter was still young when that genre was in its chart-ruling prime, but this seven-song EP makes it clear that artists like Brandy and Aaliyah left an imprint on her. Kelly’s lithe soprano has always excelled at songs that were R&B-adjacent—one listen to “Time Flies,” from her pandemic EP Solitude, makes that evident. But on tori, Kelly, working with producer Jon Bellion, honors both early-millennium and current trends with exciting results. tori opens with “cut,” which recalls early-’00s Timbaland productions, right down to the “uh-huh” exhortations that punctuate her fluttering soprano. It’s a quick-stepping flirtation, its rapid-fire beats and urgent synth-strings adding to the simmering yet playful vibe. “missin u,” which follows, puts the spotlight on Kelly’s vocal power, her soprano soaring as she recalls “The perfect night/Kissin’ you.” (The R&B edit of “missin u” that closes the album ditches the dance-floor-ready beats that underpin the verses for a slightly more reserved, swaying rhythm.) The Bellion duet “young gun” opens with the two singers, playing ex-lovers, circling each other warily. As the tension increases, so does the fervency of the beat, making the possibility that the other has moved on feel life-or-death. Kelly also dips into Afrobeats on “unbelievable,” a duet with the upstart Nigerian singer Ayra Starr. The song’s perpetual-motion vibe gives extra heft to its central idea of navigating self-respect while being enamored with another. As befits a self-titled EP, tori finds Kelly charting new paths in her career: She’s still using her voice to uplift herself and her listeners, but she’s also letting her personal muse shine through a bit more brightly.