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Reviews 21/12/2003

Album Of The Week: Stacie Orrico

by Mikey (Gillingham, Kent, UK) - Each week I preview an album which I think deserves a listen to and if it's worth to buy, I will cater for all tastes of music from R'n'B to Rock, Hip hop and Pop. At the end of the page, you will find all future album releases. With Xmas round the corner not many artists are releasing new material after December 8th, new album releases will resume at the end of January 2004.

Stacie Orrico - Stacie Orrico
Release Date: 13 October 2003

She has an image to match pop's biggest stars and a voice capable of years of chart success. But Stacie Orrico is perhaps an unlikely pop princess. While Britney's a slave 4 U and Christina's sweating till her clothes come off, Stacie's message of sexual purity and spiritual fulfillment comes as something of a breath of fresh air. She has already refused to pose for men's magazines and, earlier this year, she explained to one interviewer that "there need to be young women artists out there encouraging young girls to make wise decisions about their relationships, what they put into their bodies and in evaluating their lives".

Stacie's story didn't begin with "Stuck", however. Unlike many other teenage songstresses, Stacie, who says her greatest musical influence is Lauryn Hill, already had one album and a Christmas "extended play" under her belt before she signed with Virgin Records. And, unlike many of pop's other big names, Stacie Orrico wasn't coached on how to be a star throughout her childhood. It was only when, at the age of twelve and "out of boredom", she entered a singing competition and won, that she began to seriously consider the option of becoming a singer. Even when one of the judges of the competition offered her a record deal with ForeFront Records, Stacie carefully considered her options before making a decision.

Fortunately, Stacie accepted, and so began her steady rise to international fame. While "Stuck" may fit neatly into most radio schedules, Stacie Orrico's rise to fame and the concerns reflected in her music are far from normal. With a powerful voice and wisdom beyond her years, Stacie looks set to be a force to be reckoned with in the music industry for some years to come.

Stacie Orrico is hitting the UK with her self-titled album, but does it live up to the high expectations she has created herself with the first single from the album, "Stuck"? Opening the album, the single gets us off to an almost perfect start, which is bettered further, when we learn the track was co-written by Stacie herself. If this does not reach the Top 5, justice will not have been done, but even if the single fares less well than expected, there are plenty of other songs to launch Stacie to solo success.

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 'n' 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?

Maybe Christina and Britney have dominated the last few years, but if it's a good role model you are looking for, you need to look no further. And it is not just Christians that can benefit from Stacie's meaningful lyric and strong imprinted morals - this is a girl looking to live a decent, honest life, and even if we all can't compete with her singing and song writing standards, we'd do well to take a leaf out of her book and give her songs a really close listen.

1 Stuck
2 (There's Gotta Be) More To Life
3 Bounce Back
4 I Promise
5 Security
6 Instead
7 Hesitation
8 Strong Enough
9 I Could Be The One
10 Maybe I Won't Look Back
11 Tight
12 That's What Love's About

Album Release Schedule

January 5
D-Side - Stronger Together

January 19
Amy Studt - False Smiles

January 26
Air - Talkie Walkie
JC Chasez - Schizophrenic

February 2
Lost Prophets - Start Something

February 9
Emma - Simply Me

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