Kesha’s Rainbow, her third studio album, is a triumphant return to the pop music scene after years of legal war with her producer and alleged rapist, Dr. Luke. Dr. Luke’s presence looms over the album but Kesha’s pristine vocals and inimitable spirit and spunk conquer her demons to create a solid pop album.
The album begins with the catchy “Bastards,” a kiss-off to the haters and an opening that alludes to the Dr. Luke-situation without making it the focus of the album. “Bastards” introduces the main setback with Rainbow, the album is bogged down with cliché lyrics and elementary similes that result in some very lyrically weak moments throughout the album. This sentiment is echoed throughout the album in the songs “Finding You,” “Hunt You Down,” and “Boogie Feet (feat. Eagles of Death Metal)” among other tracks.
Rainbow features a total of four collaborations, “Boogie Feet” and “Let ‘Em Talk” (both with Eagles of Death Metal), “Woman” featuring The Dap-Kings Horns, and “Old Flame (Can’t Hold A Candle To You) which features Dolly Parton. “Woman” contains the best production on the entire album and one of the best vocal performances; the bubbly track exudes a confidence and glee that makes it one of the cornerstones of the album.
Along with “Woman” other highpoints on Rainbow include lead single, “Praying” and the Dolly Parton collaboration. Despite its shortcomings in terms of the messy comping, “Praying” is the single best original female vocal performance of 2017 thus far. The song is strong lyrically and vocally; the simple piano, heart-wrenching choir, and soul-wrecking drums culminate in the apex of the album, a track that uplifts Kesha and the audience. The Dolly Parton collaboration is a cover of a country classic; their voices mesh surprisingly well and it makes for a fulfilling listen.
The influence of country music is apparent throughout the album; Kesha’s voice slithers in and out of a twang and the banjos and guitars complement the overall feel of the album: The Reintroduction and Rebirth of Kesha Rose.
Despite the incredible high points, there are some duds on Rainbow. “Finding You” and “Hunt You Down” are pure filler and could’ve been kept off the album or replaced by “Emotional,” a Japanese bonus track. Tracks such as “Boogie Feet,” “Godzilla,” and “Spaceship” at first appear to be awful, but they are integral parts of the album. These tracks bring about the weirdness that made Kesha the loveable strange pop star that she was from the “Tik Tok” and “We R Who We R” days.
Overall, Rainbow is a solid and an excellent return to the music scene. This album is clearly the music Kesha wants to make and her passion runs deep through every chord on the album. It’s only up from here, best of luck to Kesha on the rest of her trial and her future endeavors.
Key Tracks: “Praying,” “Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You),” “Woman”