Being a rebel in today’s music climate usually means that an artist will change up their sound to please themselves over their fans or label executives. With Kesha, she has always been a rebel. Never one to shy away from raunchy lyrics or personal issues, Kesha has been a symbol of evolution in the music industry over the past decade. From being radio pop friendly in 2012 with her album “Warrior” to her more laid-back 2017 album “Rainbow,” Kesha has made a shift many were craving.
Her newest album, “High Road,” is a fusion of both old and new Kesha. An example of this fusion is on the opening track “Tonight.” Kesha raps about partying and having a good time with her friends, which sounds similar to her style earlier in her career. The opening chorus however, is chill and has Kesha bellowing how “tonight’s the best night of our lives,” a characteristic of her previous album.
The main theme of the album is Kesha being herself and not letting anyone tell her who to be. Many of the songs on the album have rebellious lyrics that are raunchy and punchy. At the same time though, there are songs like “Father Daughter Dance” that are stripped back confessions of Kesha’s personal life and her struggles. She mentions how her dad was not present in her life and how she’s not sad about his absence.
It’s hard deciding which side of Kesha I prefer. Ultimately, I appreciate the fusion of older and newer Kesha. Both styles blend smoothly together on the album. The only point where this fusion fails is on the track “The Potato Song (Cuz I Want To).” It’s a very immature song about Kesha not wanting to grow up and living away from society. The concept has the potential to explore the pains of being older. Instead, Kesha wrote the song as if she was five years old and having a tantrum against her mother.
Kesha’s songwriting could also use some improvement in some areas of “High Road.” She is not a bad songwriter and some of her simpler songs like “Kinky” and “BFF” are great examples of basic lyrics done well. Where I feel the lyrics could have been deeper was on the closing track “Summer.” Lines like, “Call me selfish but I really hope that you miss your flight,” are clever but could use some work.
“High Road” is a rewarding album for longtime Kesha fans who miss her older style of music while also pleasing newer fans. The lyrics may not have you looking up analysis videos of the deeper meaning of life, but they are honest reflections of Kesha’s life and personality. Producers like Ryan Lewis and STINT bring out the best in Kesha through thoughtful beats and great use of instruments. Featured artists such as Wrabel and Sturgil Simpson are great complementary pieces to Kesha’s free spirited style. While there are areas that could have easily been worked on for longer, “High Road” is a solid album from Kesha that fans will enjoy.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org