Kesha finds her voice in country music
After a highly publicized lawsuit with producer Dr. Luke, Kesha has emerged from a five-year hiatus with a powerful new sound. The singer finds her voice on Rainbow, abandoning her quick-lipped rapping in favor of pure folk-rock belting. The wacky album cover features the singer’s naked backside wrapped in a rainbow ribbon, inflatable spaceships, and an odd oozing eyeball. “It’s healing from so many things from my past and just trying to get back to the most childlike, naive, purest version of myself that I can find,” Kesha said of the album, in an interview with NPR.
The album starts softly, with only an acoustic guitar for accompaniment and Kesha’s new found country twang. “Bastards,” followed by “Let ‘Em Talk” address the singer’s ability to rise above the bullies in her life. Then, she hits listeners with a feminist anthem (“Woman”), a “hymn for the hymn-less” (“Hymn”) and a healing mantra (“Praying”). Kesha’s vocals are so unexpected on “Praying,” showcasing a killer range her prior albums failed to highlight.
Kesha shows fans her country roots on Johnny Cash-influenced “Hunt You Down,” then she duets with Dolly Parton on the classic country music standard penned by her mother, “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle To You).” She screams like a valley girl on “Boogie Feet” and gets weird, imagining what it would be like meet “Godzilla.” The final song is bluegrass and “Spaceship” pulls this uplifting, whimsical album together. “There’s too much hate, there’s too much hurt for this heart / Lord knows this planet feels like a hopeless place / Thank God I’m going back to outer space,” she sings over a plucked banjo.
While notably more a country album than pop, Rainbow stands for more than the singer’s genre stance. Co-produced by Drew Pearson and Ricky Reed, Kesha’s third studio album is her best yet.