Before Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it she worshiped Jesus and sang about it, all under her given name of Katy Hudson. As contemporary Christian rock goes, Katy Hudson's eponymous 2001 debut on Red Hill Records feels pretty contemporary, with Perry already betraying a heavy, heavy debt to Alanis Morisette, hauling out caterwauls whenever she can This helps give her roiling midtempo expressions of faith a touch of inappropriate angst, but it also lends a theatrical lilt to the lighter songs, such as the jazzy "Last Call" and "Growing Pains," which is about as close to a Fiona Apple rip-off as CCM ever gets. But even here you can hear Perry straining against her constraints: her line "while the man upstairs does his work on me" is as sexually charged as anything on One of the Boys. This isn't the only time there are weird carnal overtones here: there's a creeping S&M undercurrent to her expression of devotion on "Faith Won't Fail" -- she can be thrown into a cell, shackled up on the rails, and still her "faith won't fail" -- that's oddly disquieting. These lyrical diversions are the most interesting things here as the music is the kind of assaultive, over-produced Wall of Sound that some CCM rockers do in order to prove they're contemporary. To her credit, Perry never seems comfortable with that onslaught of sound -- she starts scatting whenever she can and seems drawn to numbers that are a bit more playful (how else to explain her bizarre British accent on "Growing Pains"), so it's clear that this city girl would never be satisfied by sticking around down on a Christian farm. But as an album, Katy Hudson is only instructive as the first act in a prefab pop star's career, to show that she has talent but that she was mismarketed -- and that she couldn't quite fit as a Christian singer, either, so everybody is better off with Katy tasting cherry chapstick instead of communion wine.
Katy Hudson Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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