Tori Harper / The Fuel Music
Release Date: May 18th 2018
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- My Father, My Shepherd
- Stand Firm
- After Dark
You know when you hear an artist and you think, ‘Gee, they sound exactly like someone else, and for some reason or another, you could actually hear the other person singing the song instead of the one that is supposed to be singing?’ Sound confusing enough? Let me just clarify…listening to this new song from newcomer to the CCM market Tori Harper, and you could be forgiven to think that this was actually a song by CCM veteran Holly Starr. That’s now eerily and scarily similar their voices really are. But no, Holly didn’t record this EP titled Seasons, nor did she sing on any of the songs. In fact, new artist Tori Harper, who sounds a lot, and I mean a lot, like Holly Starr, recorded all the songs on Seasons. With such honesty and transparency, the songs on Seasons invite us all to invest into this notion and understanding of joy, and how it is through difficult seasons in life where we may often discover what we truly believe about the Lord. With this EP standing at a total of 5 songs, Tori delivers what I reckon is one of the most underrated EPs of the year thus far, and is a must-listen if you are a fan of other similar artists like Holly Starr, Jamie Grace, Cimorelli or pureNRG.
The first single to be distributed to radio, ‘Joy’, quite possibly the catchiest song on the EP, invites us all to seek out the joy of the Lord and His peace He so freely gives. Standing at a radio friendly length of 3:39, Tori Harper’s introduction into a music industry subset that is equally as fulfilling as it is competitive, is nothing short of impressive. The song ‘Joy’ itself reminds us that it is our joy and love we receive from God that defines the circumstance we’re in, rather than the feelings we feel each day. But then you need to think…joy is rarely discussed through song. Happiness is discussed and sung about. So is love in all its facets. But joy? Maybe because we as people find it difficult to describe. Or maybe we subconsciously settle for ‘happiness’ and ‘love’ in more of a fleeting way rather than the joy that comes from the Lord which is much more permanent. We ought to remember that our feelings fail and what can be thought of as love one moment can be just an infatuation the next. Joy is more firmly rooted in the beauty of Jesus and what we can see in the Word of God and in the world that continuously points back to Him. And therefore this song from Tori is as much fun-filled as it is needed in society. Because for us to have joy in our hearts is to be in a constant state of peace, comfort, happiness and a contented nature, regardless of what is happening around us. We are reminded that joy comes from having a secure identity, and as this song progresses in this joyous pop-driven musical atmosphere, I am able to sing aloud with Tori, that ‘…Your joy is greater than a thousand sorrows and Your love will conquer all of my tomorrows, it fills my heart, the sound of Your song, and now I’m dancing all day long, I love to feel Your joy…’
The remainder of the EP is as poignant and powerful as the first single ‘Joy’, and firmly asserts my view that Tori is one of today’s most underrated new artists of the 2017/18 period. ‘Seasons’, the title track, is one that has a timely and suitable message of how we ought to trust the Lord with everything that we are (heart, soul, mind, strength) as we watch and see God work in every moment and every season and circumstance of life we are in, while ‘After Dark’ gives us the notion of hope as we as Christians are reminded to shine wherever we are, even if it is in our darkest places, knowing full well that to shine and to carry God’s light isn’t necessarily easy- we may often feel very alone when such a thing as shining your light, happens. Nevertheless, ‘After Dark’ tells us a cohesive story of there’s hope and joy after seasons of doubt and despair, as this track carries on thematically from where ‘Joy’ left off. ‘Stand Firm’ feels like the most CCM-esque track as we are met with a melody that presents us with a message of how we ought to stand firm in every circumstance we are in, holding onto the Lord no matter what our circumstances tell us to do (or not to do), while the EP ends with ‘My Father, My Shepherd’, a retake and retelling of the latter part of Psalm 23, as we are shown how a song with its roots firmly planted in the Word can still have it’s impact now today through song. Though not as musically engaging as some of the previous songs on the EP, this album ender nevertheless challenges us to revisit Psalm 23 and see if we ourselves can boldly declare these words in the Bible passage or not.
‘…You look at the mirror every day, so I write the truth on my mirror; but also, I put it in my songs. That’s something really key to who I am…It can be difficult for someone who’s not in the Word every day to remember what God promises us about our circumstances. Through the good and through the bad, He’s with us. He’s not promising that we’re not going to have trials or we’re not going to have issues, but He does promise that He’s going to be with us right through those things; and in the end, He’s going to use that somehow for good and for His glory…’ Though Tori herself struggled a lot with depression during her teenage years, it has been a firm rooting and plating into the joy of the Lord that has allowed God to work through Tori and to use her circumstance for the better, or as Tori herself says it, ‘…it wasn’t until that turning point that I really started to understand who God was. He’s all-powerful and He’s holy, but He’s also intimate and He’s kind and He’s compassionate and He’s in the details…’ Seasons as an album is one I want to hear on a continual basis, and is for anyone who is struggling with life, which is pretty much everyone. Tori Harper, while young and sounding exactly like Holly Starr (which in the short term can be a bad thing, but hopefully as the months go by, people can hear the uniqueness in her songs and hopefully differentiate her from Holly, yet another artist that is seriously underrated!), has a lot of potential, with ‘Joy’ leading the way on a very underrated EP (out of all EP’s released in 2018 thus far!). It is when we are rooted firmly in Christ and His love that we can truly live an abundant life, and Seasons can hopefully encourage us all on this ever-winding journey. Kudos to Tori for such a powerful and poignant EP, can’t wait to the full length album whenever it comes!
3 songs to listen to: Joy, After Dark, My Father, My Shepherd
RIYL: Holly Starr, Alexis Slifer, 1GN, Cimorelli