Kesha learns to love and let go.
Kesha learns to love and let go on vibrant new album, Rainbow, her first full-length project in five years.
Kesha’s recent legal dramas surrounding her and producer Dr.Luke have been well publicised. So much so that it was feared Kesha would never release music again, a fear that she too shared. Yet here we are, five years after “Warrior”, and Kesha has dropped her brand new album; Rainbow. Whilst it’s hard to disconnect Kesha’s personal life experiences from her career, finally… her music is now the focus. She’s putting herself back out there and laying her soul bare, and the result is triumphant.
Rainbow was preceded by lead single “Praying”. Her pain is honest. She finds strength in her battle wounds and uses them for self-preservation; the result is beautiful. It’s perfectly written and the instrumental progression is euphoric. The whistle note is the ultimate release. As she hits it, you feel the demons are exorcised and her spirit is freed. It’s utterly stunning. As a lead single it was the only choice – it perfectly demonstrated Kesha and who she’s become. Her talents and soul suddenly became exposed for everyone to see. Even those that didn’t pay much attention to Kesha beforehand stood up, listened, and loved it.
Her vocal delivery is one of the main highlights of this record. On album opener “Bastards,” we hear Kesha in a stripped back acoustic setting. It’s a stark contrast to the openings of her previous projects, instantly highlighting that this is a departure from her expected sound. That being said, the lyrical content is familiar Kesha, so much so you could easily see this getting sped up and remixed into a throbbing four-to-the-floor beat. “Don’t let the bastards get you down,” she confidently proclaims. The ending of the track evokes memories of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” and once again let’s listeners know this isn’t the Ke$ha we’re all used to, but rather Kesha Rose.
The “Warrior” follow up delves even further into the pop star’s diverse musical tastes with two collaborations alongside The Eagles Of Death Metal. On “Boogie Feet,” we’re welcomed to embrace the carefree party girl of old, but see how she’s grown on this journey. Same for sister track “Let Em’ Talk” – it’s reminiscent of the pop punk rock made popular by Paramore. Once more, Kesha emphasizes the importance of unapologetically being yourself; it’s the overarching theme of the record. “I’ve decided that all the haters everywhere can **** my ****,” she sings. It’s so Kesha, and a natural evolution of 2013’s Iggy Pop assisted “Dirty Love”.
On the album title track, the “We R Who We R” singer sings about falling “back in love with being alive”. Here she finds joy in the mystery of life’s unpredictability. Rainbow perfectly evokes that message; discovering yourself and owning who you are. “What’s left of my heart is still gold,” she croons. Kesha is all about the colours, the glitter, the sparkle, and here she tells herself to reclaim the vibrant hues and brighten up the world once more. It’s a gorgeous sentiment and works as the truest self-love song, doing “Hymn”‘s job a million times better.
At times, the lyrical content of the LP borders on repetitive (more than five tracks are dedicated to loving who you are). However in 2017, the message is imperative. It’s a semantic field that Kesha freely admits to owning in track “Learn To Let Go,” and as the record ends you can’t help but wonder if the album could have covered more. The only true moment where Kesha shows her bare bones was on “Praying”. It’s understandable she doesn’t want to delve into the true darkness she’s felt at an exhibitionist level. Perhaps she legally isn’t able to, but you can’t help but wonder if just one self-empowerment anthem less could have made way for something with more emotional depth.
The album closes on; “Spaceship,” the longest-running track on the record and finishes the entire affair perfectly. Kesha has always had a love for the supernatural and other-worldly (see Warrior track “Supernatural”). By likening her passion to leave for another planet, it is unmistakably her. It’s oddly comforting to hear her sing about looking up at the sky and the stars and think of her. She doesn’t belong on this planet anymore with its hate and lack of love. Thematically, the track is a little crazy, but lyrically it’s such a beautiful listen that I smiled the entire time. It’s a perfect way to end the record because it’s all encompassing. She takes the themes of self-love, growth and letting go and wraps them up in a pretty rainbow bow. It acts as the climax for what she’s learned – Kesha has moved on, and now it’s time for her spaceship to beam her back to where she belongs. As it ends, you’re melancholy at the thought of losing her… again.
Overall, Rainbow delivers everything you’d expect and more. The record feels like a natural progression of Kesha’s musical journey. Nothing is misplaced; nothing sounds outdated or redundant, but is rather the pot of gold found at the end of a very, very, long Rainbow.
Favourite Songs: Praying, Boots, Learn To Let Go, Hunt You Down
Favourite lyric: “I know you love me wearing nothing but your boots”
BreatheHeavy.com scores it: 4.5/5