‘Rainbow’ By Kesha Album Review: Singer Returns With Keen Power
“Don’t let the bastards get you down, oh no / Don’t let the a–holes wear you out / Don’t let the mean girls take the crown / Don’t let the scumbags screw you ’round,” Kesha begins on her latest album Rainbow, her first since 2012.
After a long-running legal battle between Kesha and producer Dr. Luke – the singer claims that the producer sexually assaulted and harassed her while the producer claims that the singer has defamed him – the pop-star was unable to release new music.
But even though the case has not necessarily worked out in her favor, Kesha has released an album that serves as a strong rebuke of her tormentor and as a powerful cry of strength, womanhood, and unity.
On “Praying,” an early single off the album, Kesha powerfully sings, “You brought the flames and you put me through hell / I had to learn how to fight for myself / And we both know all the truth I could tell,” over haunting strings, a chorus of soulful voices, and a pounding piano. It’s hard to hear the song without images of Kesha learning to accept the frustration over her court case against Luke coming to mind.
This happens often on the album, including on the aforementioned “Bastards.” In the opening words of “Learn to Let Go,” the “Tik Tok” singer says, “Been a prisoner of the past / Had a bitterness when I looked back / Was telling everyone that it’s not that bad / ‘Till all my s–t hit the fan.” Again, her case against Luke seems to be a direct influence.
But this theme never gets stale, for three reasons. One, not every song is explicitly about the incident. Two, the instrumentation of nearly every song is different and refreshing. And three, Kesha’s voice leaves no doubt that every word she sings is the truth.
Musically, Kesha spans several genres while still remaining firmly in the pop world. Compared to previous albums, Rainbow is far more experimental and generally more artistic.
“Hunt You Down” is based in country with a guitar strummed in a way that Johnny Cash would be proud of. “Bastards” is a simple acoustic guitar piece that beautifully showcases Kesha’s voice and words. “Spaceship,” the album’s closing track, is a psychedelic folk song. “Let ‘Em Talk” and “Boogie Feet,” both featuring Eagles of Death Metal, are pure heavy rocking pop.
Rainbow shows that Kesha is back and with a force, both as a musician and even more so as advocate for women who have unfortunately been put in the same, seemingly hopeless, situation that she has been experiencing for the past several years.