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Album Review: High Road by Kesha

On January 31, 2020, Kesha released her fourth studio album through RCA Records and Kemosabe. The album, titled High Road, is an album that has nods to her previous release Rainbow, which was her first release after her highly publicized legal battle with producer and former collaborator, Dr. Luke. Despite using piano and guitar in a majority of her songs like she did for her last album, this album marks a triumphant return to her dance-pop music that she is most well known for.

In an interview done with Rolling Stone, Kesha talked about how making High Road was the most fun she has ever had making a record. “[I] had to address some very serious things, and now this time around I have reclaimed my love of life,” she says. “I feel like this time around I reconnected to the unrestrained joy and wildness that’s always been a part of me — and in this process, I have had the most fun I’ve ever had making a record. I hope my fans love it as much as I loved making it — and know I always have y’all in mind.”

album cover for Kesha’s newest album “High Road”

You can feel the essence of that unrestrained joy and wildness that Kesha was talking about in lead single “Raising Hell,” which features bounce music revolutionizer Big Freedia. However, in comparing that wildness to past singles, this song and the overall album seems relatively tame. This is obviously not the same Kesha as the one who sang songs like “We R Who We R,” “Your Love is My Drug,” and “Tik Tok.” From “Raising Hell” alone, you can tell that she has definitely matured in her singing and songwriting. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. When “Tik Tok” was released, Kesha was only 22 years old. Eleven years later, Kesha still loves to party, but it sounds like she also prefers to be home by midnight instead of being out until the early A.M.

In songs like “Cowboy Blues” and “Resentment,” the latter featuring Sturgill Simpson, Brian Wilson, and Wrabel, you can hear what Taylor Swift would have sounded like today if she had stuck with the country shtick. This is not to say that it’s bad or anything but I don’t think that Taylor Swift would be making the best music to her ability if she was still stuck in the country genre. “Shadow” and “Honey” sort of also follow the country theme, however the former sounds like it could be sung by Rachel Platten while the latter sounds like a rejected Christina Aguilera song. Again, not exactly a bad thing, but it just doesn’t feel like Kesha at all, whether it be old dance-pop Kesha or more recent bluesy Kesha.

The only song that genuinely stands out from the rest is “Kinky,” which features Ke$ha. Production-wise, it’s not like anything Kesha has ever created. In fact, musically, it sounds kind of like a Charli XCX track with very distinct 808’s and synths in the background. The song even features a rap from Ke$ha, Kesha’s old alter ego. The only off-putting thing about the track is the 30-second intro, which is Kesha talking about a new addition to the Spice Girls, Kinky Spice, to her mom on the phone. The intro could have easily been an interlude to the song instead of actually being a part of the song.

As a lifelong Kesha fan, it is with great disappointment that I have to say that this project is pretty lackluster and mediocre at best. The songs are good, but that’s it. There’s really no cohesion to the project as a whole — it’s just a collection of songs on one album. One must give credit to Kesha though, as it’s definitely not her greatest album, but at least she had absolute creative control of this project, right?

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