Kemosabe Records· January 31, 2020
The singer’s fifth studio album High Road (her second as Kesha, rather than Ke$ha), bursts open with the club-ready “Tonight,” which would be right at home next to “TiK ToK” and other Ke$ha classics, with irreverent lyrics about going out with friends over a danceable beat. The next few songs follow in similar fashion — she seems to enjoy her well-needed freedom on leading single “My Own Dance” and gospel-influenced “Raising Hell.”
This theme continues throughout the album, most clearly in “Potato Song (Cuz I Want To), in which Kesha tells the world that she is absolutely done with doing what everyone expects: “I’ll grow some potatoes/And flowers, then I’ll make sandcastles/Then I’ll eat some cake, ‘cause I want to.” The song trots along to a big band soundtrack as the singer freewheels through the verses.
Where the pop star really shines is where she dials it back, leaving the heavy beats behind for the ukulele duet “Cowboy Blues” and country folk-tinged “Resentment.” Both tracks showcase her unexpectedly smooth vocals. Meanwhile, the lowkey ballad “Shadow” is a rousing anthem about ignoring haters, the 90s R&B “Honey” is a sassy song about fighting with another girl over a boy, and “BFF” is a charming duet with the singer’s real-life best friend Wrabel about intimate platonic love.
Other high points include “Little Bit of Love,” another upbeat dance track, and “Kinky,” where Kesha gives her past self Ke$ha a feature and sings about non-monogamy.
While the album contains many great tracks, its weak point is continuity: it seems to be one-third club tracks, one-third country rock, and one-third … absolutely anything else she wants, ranging from Katy Perry-esque pop (“Chasing Thunder”) to 8-bit samples of Nintendo music (“Birthday Suit”). While certainly fun, Kesha’s lyrics are simplistic and usually explicit, even on more serious tracks. But she doesn’t seem to care much about being offensive. She sings in ‘Shadow,’“I love singing f*ck in all my songs/Cause the only who got time to get offended/Are the ones who’ve probably never gotten off.”
It’s clear that Kesha has certainly overcome much of the anger she showcased on Rainbow.The singer has found her footing, and this record is a sure indicator of what she’s ready for.
Listen to High Road: