After blowing us away with the emotionally charged ballad, “Praying,” Kesha’s “animals” eagerly awaited the release of her third studio album, “Rainbow.” Check our review “Kesha: the redemption of ‘Praying’” here.
Kesha did not disappoint her animals, and she might have added a few more to the ranks on the way. As The Guardian puts it, “if poetic justice exists, Kesha’s ‘Rainbow’ would be a world-beating hit.” They refer to her as a “woman unchained” finally free from the “monsters” and “boogie men” under her artistic bed. At this point, we all know the identity of those monsters, and while justice may be left wanting legally, emotionally and spiritually, this album proves that Kesha gave the final verdict on this case. You can read more about Kesha’s legal battle with Dr. Luke here.
Yet, this is not your average “woe is me” kind of album. Kesha is not trying to get people to feel sorry for her. Instead, she has transformed her experience into something relatable. Rarely does she refer to her experience directly. Instead, she stays in the realm of generalities- being a woman, being strong, battling anxiety, letting go. All of which can apply to thousands of people who find themselves facing some sort of struggle or hardship.
Kesha does not dwell in the land of shadows, despite having every reason to. Instead, she paints rainbows, encouraging others to do the same as she sings: “Trust me, I know, life is scary/But just put those colors on, girl/Come and play along with me tonight.”
Another surprising revelation on this album is Kesha’s aptitude for country. This is not the first time she has dabbled in the country genre (“Timber” was a successful start), but this time Kesha goes all in instead of just dipping her toes. She teams up with Dolly Parton in a cover of the 1980 “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You),” written by none other than Pebe Sebert, Kesha’s mom! The song clearly has a special place in Kesha’s heart, and it becomes increasingly evident in her rendition of the country ballad.
Kesha even takes a leaf from Carrie Underwood’s book, with the humorous anti-cheating anthem “Hunt You Down.” In an innocent Southern belle voice, she sings (and threatens), “Baby, I love you so much/Don’t make me kill you.”
On “Spaceship,” she fuses her newfound country twang with folk, and the result is arguably one of the best songs on the entire album. Her strong song writing skills are finally shining through, where they were previously hidden by excessive autotune and formulaic pop.
The rest of the album sees her branching out and experimenting with other musical genres, without losing her catchy pop roots. Rolling Stone declares, “across the board, she achieves a careful balance of her diverse musical selves.” There’s the rock-infused “Let ‘Em Talk” (featuring the Eagles of Death Metal), the R&B influenced “Hymn,” followed by the gospel ballad “Praying,” the single where it all started.
While “Praying” was Kesha’s first swipe at a music industry that has abused her, “Woman” is the true girl-power anthem. Accompanied by the Dap-Kings Horns, Kesha gives the ultimate clap back to those who still believe that women should be baby-making machines at home (in 2017). Given the current political climate, the track is a much needed reminder that women are self-sufficient and strong. It’s been six years since Beyonce declared that women run the world, and apparently people need constant reminders for the message to actually sink in. Enter Kesha, with the perfect female empowerment anthem, and a story that demonstrates she practices what she preaches.
In an open letter to Rolling Stone, Kesha reveals how this free-spirited, funk-injected track came to be. She shares that it was “pure joy” from the moment she walked into the recording studio, in a particular mood where she just wanted to shout “I’m a motherf*cking woman!” She writes, “I have always been a feminist, but for much of my life I felt like a little girl trying to figure things out. In the past few years, I have felt like a woman more than ever.”
She continues, “It was such a beautiful experience to write such a strong female empowerment song with two men, Drew Pearson and Stephen Wrabel, because it reinforces how supportive men can be of women AND feminism.” You go girl.