Tori Harper Music / The Fuel Music
Release Date: April 24th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Wreck
- Hiding Place
‘…like a lot of artists I started doing church musicals at a very early age. I was used to being on stage, it was a place that felt natural and comfortable to me. Being from Nashville, People come to this city with the dream to “Make it” in music. I have had to let the Lord define what “making it” means. Every time I worry, God always reminds me that He called me to music for a purpose and that my music can change people’s perspectives on the Lord and help them see the hope that He brings. When I sit down to write, I am writing for the person who feels left behind. The person who feels lost, left out, that person who feels like no one cares about what they’re doing. The person who feels like they have gone too far, like the Lord could never love them now. I write to remind them that God sees them. He loves them. He chooses them always! I try to write about real life as I experience it. It’s so important to me to pour out everything the Lord has poured into me. I want to serve where I am called to serve, Love where I am called to love, and go wherever the Lord leads. I believe that everyone has something special in them that the Lord will use to help someone else. It may be that something you have walked through is what that random person on the street needs to hear today. One avenue of my ministry is my song being played, but what I do in my ordinary everyday life with the Lord is where my true ministry lies…’ Tori Harper has been in and around the music industry for quite some time. Since starting off in 2018 with her EP Seasons (of which I reviewed here on the website), that included her radio hit songs ‘Joy’, ‘After Dark’ and the title track; we have been reminded through her first EP, of her 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. ‘Joy’ showed us this concept and notion of joy that is rarely and maybe even barely discussed, as we saw that in a Christian context, joy is 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; while ‘Seasons’ the title track of the album was a reminder 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. ‘After Dark’ gave us the hope that joy and comfort come after seasons of doubt and despair; while ‘Stand Firm’ and ‘My Father My Shepherd’ rounded out the EP in powerful fashion- ‘Stand Firm’ encouraged us to stand unwavering in the promises of God, and ‘My Father, My Shepherd’ was a modern retelling of Psalm 23, and be reminded that a song with its roots firmly planted in the Word can still have it’s impact in a society like today. Now fastforward to 2020, and we see yet another EP, Selah, from Tori, this time 4 tracks instead of 5.
Even though it seems like Tori hasn’t really done much from EP to EP (5 songs on Seasons and 4 songs on Selah), this is certainly not the case- Tori has also unveiled to us 7 singles and one other Christmas single between the two EPs, and while I have not heard much of them myself, since hearing both Seasons and Selah, I’m sure to check out the singles from Tori (those ones released not attached to an EP) in the next few days. But from what I have heard, I can safely declare that Tori’s heartfelt worshipful music is certain to be enjoyed if you love worship more of a spontaneous variety, similar to artists like Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Housefires or Hillsong Worship. Tori’s infectious joy and overpouring zeal for praising the Lord can certainly be evident and seen here on these new 4 songs on Selah, something that I reckon I haven’t seen that much of in terms of a worship artist flowing with the Spirit, compared to Lincoln Brewster years ago with his guitar solos. Nevertheless, Tori’s music is as much spontaneously orchestrated as it is tranquil and reflective, as we hear an artist that I’m sure will become one of the go-to worship leaders of the future. ‘The Wreck’ is the first song on the EP, and from the very outset, we see Tori powerfully reminding us that there will be times when the wreck comes, frankly, as much as we want to ride around such a mishap in our lives, or even want to rid ourselves of it altogether, often the confronting of a wreck and going through it will give us more enduring character and a perseverance that we may not refine or even have had such a difficulty not enter our lives in the first place. Tori asks us all to trust God, that He knows best, and that He isn’t afraid of us delivering to Him difficult questions that we may think He can’t solve. Because He’s God, He can solve them. And so such a song which is very reminiscent of a Job-like situation, calls upon us to be trusting during situations that may want us to be an alarmist instead of placing full trust not in of ourselves but in Christ.
Throughout the rest of the album, we see Tori continue to invite us into spaces of contemplation and introspection, as she imparts to us themes of hope and comfort, as these songs are certainly very much on the way to becoming used on a regular basis for Sunday morning worship services around the world in the upcoming months ahead. ‘Resurrect’ has the keyboards front and centre in a song that is reflective and not much instruments aside from the light keyboards and a few acoustics here and there- Tori unveils this theme of resurrection, and gives us an understanding and hope, that ‘…if You can walk on the water, if You can make the blind to see, if You can raise form the ashes, You can resurrect me…’; while ‘Hiding Place’, according to Tori herself, is about ‘…what it means to rest in God fully surrendered, allowing his healing to take place…’, and how we are never alone in this life, that we are hidden in Christ- He is our shelter and anchor in the midst of storms unintended in our lives. The EP ends with ‘Closer Than’, a track full of string instruments and a melody that we can soak into and reflect and meditate on, as we are invited into the message of allowing God to consume us fully, and letting anything that is not of Him not settle deep within our souls for it to take root. For music and songs have a lot of emotive power attached to them, and songs can either edify and encourage and impact our lives for the better, or they can do the opposite- no middle ground. The ones that edify and build us up are certainly from the Lord, and the others…well, let’s just say that I’m sure God may not have intentionally given such songs to people to edify them up, but nevertheless, will be used by Him to show bits of the person listening, or show more of Himself in the process too. Nevertheless, ‘Closer Than’ is a reminder that we all need to take a tally of what we listen to and watch on TV, because everything impacts and affects us, even if we may not even know it. As Tori imparts to us her hope for the song, we are given resolve to believe into the fact that ‘…God’s wisdom is perfect, His empathy is perfect, God alone can understand what we go through better than anyone else. God even takes this a step further. He doesn’t just listen and understand us to a perfect capacity, He also loves, heals and renews us…’
‘…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 her firm rooting into the love of God and the assurance of His moving in circumstances and situations where it can often seem as though He’s not, 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…’ Selah is an album that’s certain to be on repeat in the upcoming weeks ahead, 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, and with this album alongside her 2018 EP Seasons and the slew of singles unveiled throughout 2019/20; we are given the tools through this EP to understand that when we are rooted firmly in Christ and His love, we can truly live an abundant life, and Selah 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: Resurrect, Closer, The Wreck
RIYL: Kari Jobe, Holly Starr, Rend Collective, Kim Walker-Smith