Katy Rose: Jenny Gage
Brian Hiatt
March 19, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

If Evan Rachel Wood’s tortured, self-destructive character in ”Thirteen” were granted the happiest of endings, she might well have grown up to be 17-year-old singer-songwriter Katy Rose. Rose, whose MTV-embraced single ”Overdrive” got early exposure on the coming-of-age movie’s soundtrack last year (and pops up again in the Tina Fey film ”Mean Girls”), has transmuted a similarly agonizing early adolescence (including struggles with depression) into ”Because I Can,” a strikingly assured debut that pairs straight-outta-Diaryland lyrics with music that draws on Fiona Apple, Joni Mitchell, and Liz Phair. ”I’m still the same person, with a lot of the same issues,” says Rose, who scrawled the diagnosis ”borderline” on her hand for the lush ”Overdrive” video. ”But rather than being destructively impulsive, I’m being creatively spontaneous.”

To complete her songs of rebellion and lost innocence, Rose sought out an unlikely collaborator: her dad, Kim Bullard, who played in country-rock band Poco. ”Perhaps it was a way to tell him a lot of things, but without telling him — to ask for help without asking for help,” she says. Despite the parental supervision, she never considered ducking away from lyrics about ”girls on methedrine/naked on a TV screen” or preferring ”tongues and stimulation” to the dreariness of education. ”I don’t lie in my songs,” Rose says. And we believe her.

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