Since we’ve last seen her, Kesha has done far more than simply drop the iconoclastic $ from her name; she has also seemingly completely reinvented her style--er, styles.
In Rainbow, her first album since Warrior in 2012, Kesha bounces around nearly seamlessly between pop, punk, rock, soft ballad, and country (ft. Dolly Parton). My only complaint with this album--if I had to have one--would be that she almost tried to do too many things. There was almost a lack of continuity.
She starts off the album with a surprisingly soft, given the title, song: “Bastards.” In it, she sings to not “let the Bastards get you down” or “let the assholes wear you out.” From there she moves through Let ‘Em Talk, Woman, and Hymn--which all much more resemble the “Tik Tok”-esque Ke$ha to which we were once accustomed--before finally arriving at her long awaited ballad, "Praying."
The rest of the album continues through several genres and types of music, including an inane, silly song about dating Godzilla, before culminating in Kesha softly speaking, rather than singing, to us at the end of the last song, "Spaceship." She says, "I am nothing more than recycled stardust and borrowed energy ... Nothing is real. Love is everything. I know nothing."
This album, though it utilizes several musical styles and crosses genres, still has a very core message throughout. This is Kesha’s Coming-Back-Out album, her I-Won’t-Be-Kept-Down-Anymore album.
To understand this, one first must understand the circumstances of Kesha's five-year hiatus from making music. In the simplest of terms, Kesha accused her former producer Dr. Luke of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and other related offenses. Despite this, Sony, the company with whom she had a contract, did not drop Dr. Luke and instead kept him on as Kesha's producer until only recently.
Kesha sued to be freed from this contract or at least Dr. Luke's connections, given the alleged abuse, but, in a court decision that is still unbelievable to me, the courts did not grant this freedom.
Besides just the aforementioned Coming-Back-Out vibe, this album also gives off a "fuck you" feeling that seems very directed toward Dr. Luke. In "Praying," especially, Kesha lashes out, singing of the "truths I could tell" and that she hopes the person to whom the song is addressed is somewhere praying for atonement.
All in all, Kesha's latest is both powerful and enjoyable. I would rate it as my third favorite album of the year, right behind Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and Lorde's Melodrama.