Kesha has had a rough year. After a lawsuit against her former producer Dr. Luke—whom she sued for sexual assault and battery—Kesha also dealt with legal problems regarding new music. She was not allowed to make any new content unless it was with her former producer, but for obvious reasons, she fought for her artistic independence.
And now, after five long years, Kesha has dropped a new album—Rainbow—and most likely her best yet, joining the long list of pop stars that have rebranded themselves, such as Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift.
For anyone who used to be a Kesha fan in their middle school and early high school days, you will likely have some associations with her sound: tracks made for dancing and clubs with more of a focus on the beat than the lyrics. However with Rainbow, Kesha has changed her tune, literally.
Most radio listeners are probably familiar with her single “Praying,” and also were probably shocked when they found out Kesha was the artist behind it. “Praying” is telling of her album as whole. It’s a new sound for a new Kesha.
Now, do not get me wrong: there are still tracks on her new album that sound a lot like the old Kesha, but still, even through those tracks, she displays how her abilities have matured far beyond the “Tik Tok” days.
A large portion of the songs on her new album are explicit, but they all have a common theme of empowerment that might resonate with many listeners. For example, in the chorus of her song “Women,” she sings, “Don’t buy me a drink, I make my money,” and “Don’t call me ‘honey.’” Some of Kesha’s older songs do echo similar messages, but none to this bold of a degree.
The biggest change in Kesha’s new sound is her jump back into her country roots. Originally from Nashville, Kesha dropped her twang
y sound when she broke into the pop world. Now, as she reenters the music industry, she does so with a distinct Nashville sound. In fact, she even features Dolly Parton on one of her tracks, “Old Flames.”
She also touches on lighter folksy sounds with tracks like “Godzilla” and “Finding You,” the former of which is one of the standout tracks on her album. With a steady acoustic strum and odd lyrics that ask the question: “What do you do when you take Godzilla to the mall?” it’s easily one of the most lighthearted tracks Kesha has ever released.
The sound is definitely different for Kesha, but the album does bounce around styles quite often, and not all songs are as strong as others. Overall, it’s a surprising direction for a new version of an old pop star.