Never has Christian music sounded so sexy. In fact, on first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking that the 17-year-old Seattle stunner Stacie Orrico was the next Christina Aguilera, with the voice, looks and dirty lyrics to match.
The urban, R&B sound is certainly there, but this girl is singing about a much more serious mythical force than a genie in a bottle. Stuck and More To Life (There’s Gotta Be) are concerned with troubles of faith and gradually introduce us to the idea that this is, in fact, a record of deeply religious music.
Bounce Back sees Orrico losing her way, but soon running “like a river” back to God. I Promise, with its R n’ B beats, luscious backing vocals and electronic instrumentation, has strong shades of TLC and echoes of Prince‘s Emancipation album. The lyrics are strongly spiritual.
Stacie sings parables on Security and Instead, about stepping into someone’s shoes before dismissing their problems. The urban, Missy Elliott-style backing doesn’t even sound out of place, though you’d think it would.
On Hesitation, Stacie’s message becomes more insistent, as she half-sings, half-raps a religious entreaty to the masses: “Why the hesitation/God is ever waitin’/Gotta stop procrastinatin’/ Can you hear me?” And it’s catchy, too.
The album’s highlight is undoubtedly Strong Enough. A piano ballad in a similar style to Lauryn Hill‘s best slow numbers, this track is actually a prayer. Orrico pleads for God to be strong enough to help her, in the same beautiful, heart-wrenching way that lesser mortals sing about love lost, and, as God comes through for her, Stacie finishes the song with a joyous last verse that simply soars.
I Could Be The One takes us back to thumping bass and big beats, but the lyrics are on the same page as before. On Maybe I Won’t Look Back and Tight, Orrico is praying. The album closes with That’s What Love’s About, another richly-textured sound accompanying the record’s distinctly Christian message.
This record, Orrico’s second despite her tender years, is a beautiful album, and it packs a spiritual punch without alienating the average Aguilera fan. At least I hope it won’t, because this contains some of the best solo female urban material in years. Does it matter that she’s not singing about sex?