The wonderful KORI follows up his 2018 single Core with a full-length album of awesomely satisfying rock songs that make for a beautiful new playlist for the upcoming months. Rumour has it rock music is making a comeback, and by the sound of this project I’d say those rumours may well be true.
Flame is brilliant, beginning with the classically colourful and passionate tones of a well-structured Free You, the bar is set high from the start and refuses to fall throughout. The song has been set-up to offer changing rhythms that you just know would work wonders at a live show. It’s uplifting, organic, and meanwhile KORI’s raspy rock vocal offers an equally inspiring and optimistic song that just screams out for you to join in. There’s a slightly gospel-choir sense of togetherness about the whole thing – it’s an anthem, and it sounds authentically, naturally, rock.
Let Down follows the opener with some wonderfully unique songwriting and a slightly different vocal sound. The music has a more organic shuffle about it, I’m reminded in equal parts of the likes of Incubus and System Of A Down, The Chili Peppers – basically the creatively free rock bands of a simpler decade. Only this time the song and the voice and the set-up are genuinely new yet again.
Here We Go Again injects a touch of Alanis Morrisette – it’s not that these comparisons are necessary, it’s just that the entire album feels like a breath of fresh air that’s been inspired by some of the best songwriters of the past few decades. This one during the hook has a more rock-ballad feel and sweeps you away on that powerful contrast between the verse and the chorus.
It’s not only the musical eclecticism and the voice that grab you on this project – the lyrics are partly impassioned with personal turmoil and partly poetically fascinating. Take the blues-rock tones of Only Be, or the dramatic folk-rock build up of Take It – both simple songs in theory, the concepts connect, but the way KORI presents certain lines gives them an alternative edge. Both are loving and mildly heart-breaking tracks, both stylistically unique from each other, and both brilliantly immersive.
Beautiful guitar work kicks off the unmistakable Core, then the energy soars as Mind Games storms into view – another lyrically compelling track with yet again a superb chorus that uplifts and resolves. Awaken Me afterwards is stunning, warming and built to connect people and create a sense of love. This whole album makes you feel great. The songwriting and the organic rock sound, Kori’s unwavering performances – it all just seems very natural, intentional, and meaningful.
Company rides with a funky bass-line and those short, snappy verse lines that seem to be a subtle calling card of KORI’s. The pace here and the lyrics are addictive, that quickness makes you want to follow the lyrics along. The acoustic sound works really well in this setting. Fade To Me follows and mellows things out with a massively soulful performance and a rising melody that suits the growing ache of the lyrics gorgeously. Potentially a personal favourite for the hit of that emotional peak.
At the penultimate moment, DSA drives with a cooling Americana vibe and offers a fitting story-line that seems intimate and revealing. There’s a sense of rising anticipation again, and rightfully so – the hook is huge, heartfelt and expressive of turmoil and misunderstanding. A great track, the sort of hidden, mid-album gem you immediately love for its carefree, alternative angle.
Last Goodbye brings the collection to an acoustically open finish – a level of space and realness drives, it feels as if the performance is right there in the room with you. KORI’s voice has so much individuality that it works in this setting as the feeling force that it is. The song lays everything out on the table at this final moment, and musically it builds up brilliantly. A stunning way to go out and an anthem that brings back that gospel-like quality.
Thank you for this one, KORI. Should be on repeat for a while and I look forward to a live show someday.