Kesha returns today with ‘High Road’, her latest studio album and the follow up to her 2017 smash, ‘Rainbow’.
Filled with anthems reminiscent of the previous album, as well as some shoutouts to her earlier releases, ‘High Road’ is a grrl power masterpiece, which will appeal to a wide cross section of music fans.
Opening with ‘Tonight’, we’re struck by how much Kesha’s singing style sounds like P!nk, but this is soon replaced by a rap reminiscent of Old Skool Kesha, not too dissimilar to ‘We R Who We R’.
‘High Road’ isn’t so much of a “prove it” album as ‘Rainbow’, but it’s still all about assertiveness and being a powerful female. Case in point ‘Honey’, where she sings about telling that toxic person in your life to move along and be gone. ‘My Own Dance’ is the ‘Bastards’ track on this album, while ‘Raising Hell’ is perhaps this album’s version of ‘Praying’. Fifth track ‘Shadows’ feels as though it’s been written in the same session as ‘Rainbow’, and could easily have fit on that album.
‘Cowboy Blues’ is a fun track with a stream of consciousness vibe; Kesha is accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and background vocals are provided by Wrabel and Eric Leva. It’s laid back and casual, as she reflects on whether or not she’s made a mess of her life; she misses a guy she’s met in a bar, and wonders if he was actually THE one – did she fuck her whole life by not going off with the dude in the cowboy blues…
Wrabel is back on ‘Resentment’, along with Sturgill Simpson, and Brian Wilsoe. We’re full on country here, and this is really where Kesha shines. It’s her lifeblood, it’s what she does best, and it’s pretty evident it’s a style she enjoys.
If you’re expecting a repeat of ‘Rainbow’, then you might be setting yourself up for disappointment – it doesn’t have as much to prove, and if you’re comparing the two, then the latter is the superior album. But ‘High Road’, when listened to on is own merits, and in isolation from ‘Rainbow’ – is still a top class album. ‘Birthday Suit’, with its computer game references and chip tune vibe is very cute and a lot of fun; ‘Kinky’, is a rocking anthem: there’s certainly a lot to grab hold of – not least of all when Kesha addresses her issues growing up not knowing her father in ‘Father Daughter Dance’: suddenly we realise that a lot of her pain stems from this.
Possibly our favourite song on the whole album – the first one that definitely made us say YES this is an album we love – is penultimate track, ‘Chasing Thunder’. Anthemic, and HUGE, it feels cathartic and healing. Its position at the tail end of the album adds to this feeling as well.
‘High Road’ is more of a grower than ‘Rainbow’, and will probably take a few listens right through for me to really appreciate it. But I will make the effort, because even just from listening through once, I know it’s going to be worth it.
‘High Road’ is out now on Kemosabe/RCA Records.