Tangible personalization sets Katy Perry’s music apart from so much of the other fluff found on pop music radio today. Although she’ll never get confused with the confessional singer/songwriters of the 70s, like Joni Mitchell, Perry nevertheless slips in more intimate personal detail than most. “Prism,” which was released today, helps reveal the real beating heart inside one of today’s most popular divas.
Perry may have moved away from the strict religious upbringing of her youth by kissing a girl and liking it, yet it appears there will always be a remnant of spirituality in her music. However, when she sings, “Lay me down at your altar baby, I’m a slave to this love” during “Spiritual,” it’s obvious she’s not singing about her parents' Pentecostal religion. For this artist, spirituality is closer to a self-help aid and/or literary device. “Legendary Lover" finds Perry singing, “Say my name like a scripture,” on a track incorporating drum percussion that slightly imitates raga music of India. Another track, “By the Grace of God,” is more about overcoming difficulties, in much the same vein as the hit single “Roar,” rather than a meditation on an attribute of God.
Although “Prism” is mostly a consistently good album, there’s still some packaging popcorn. “International Smile,” for example, name-drops L.A., Miami and New York, a geographic brag that has become far too cliché on the pop chart these days. (Katy, we know you get to travel more than the average person; you don't need to rub it in). “This Is How We Do” features a low voiced male vocal counterpart, akin to the Barry White-esque singing heard on Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop,” which leaves Perry coming off trying to hard to sound trendy, which is unnecessary for someone of her established status.
The good on "Prism" far outweighs the average, however. For instance, after Perry’s painful divorce from actor/comedian Russell Brand, it takes a brave woman to promise unconditional love, as she does with the anthem “Unconditionally.” She’s come through the darkness, scarred but smarter, and now she’s chosen to primarily focus on reflecting light through “Prism.”