Kesha's High Road: What You Need To Know
After five years that were filled with health problems and legal issues, Kesha made a triumphant return in 2017 with her third album Rainbow, channelling all of her frustrations into her most accomplished record to date.
A follow-up was originally due to arrive at the tail-end of 2019, but after postponing its release to add more songs to its tracklist, Kesha's fourth full-length offering High Road makes its arrival in stores today. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Since the release of Rainbow, which earned the singer her first nominations at the Grammys, Kesha embarked on an extensive world tour in support of the album, playing dates across Europe, North America, Oceania and Asia, as well as co-headlining a North American tour with rapper Macklemore in 2018. Kesha also popped up as a guest vocalist on The Struts' single 'Body Talks' and penned a song for a biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
In September last year, Kesha told Billboard that she was busy “writing the f*** out of some pop songs" and that she was in the process of creating her fourth album. The announcement of the album's title, High Road, followed in October, along with the album's lead single 'Raising Hell'.
Who's producing it?
Kesha serves as executive producer on the album, but she's had a fair bit of help on that front from the likes of Jeff Bhasker, Stint, Ryan Lewis, Stuart Crichton and John Hill.
Any special guests?
New York based singer-songwriter Wrabel is the biggest outside contributor to the new album, having co-written many of its songs and popping up to perform on two of them, namely 'BFF' and 'Resentment', the latter also featuring appearances Sturgill Simpson and none other than Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson.
Elsewhere there's an appearance from Big Freedia, who features on the already-released single 'Raising Hell', while 'Kinky' appears in the album's tracklist with the somewhat confusing credit 'featuring Ke$ha'.
What does it sound like?
If it seems a little odd for an artist to list themselves as a featured artist one one of their own tracks, it'll likely make a lot more sense once you press play on the song in question. 'Kinky' is a seemingly quite deliberate nod to the brash and breezy pop of Kesha's first two albums - and it isn't just a one-off in that respect.
When her previous album Rainbow arrived in 2017 it did so almost five years after its predecessor – a period of time which had, by all accounts, been extremely tough for the singer. Besides her well-documented (and ongoing) legal wrangles with producer and label boss Dr. Luke, Kesha also spent part of that time in rehab for an eating disorder, all of which unsurprisingly resulted in an album whose tone was rather more serious and sober than her earlier records.
High Road, by contrast, has been billed as “a full return to the Kesha's pop roots” and while there's a much broader range of styles and textures here than you'd have found on a record like Animal, broadly speaking it's a more uptempo affair than its predecessor and songs like 'Raising Hell' and the title track certainly fit that description.
Where High Road differs from her earlier work is that it still finds room for ballads such as 'Resentment', one of the album's most tender moments, and one that shows Kesha still has a few things to get off her chest.
Does it deliver?
While there are still a few moments on High Road that hark back to the righteous catharsis of its predecessor, the main thing that really comes across on the new album is that Kesha has learned how to enjoy herself again. If you enjoyed Rainbow, but miss some of those pop sensibilities that characterised her earlier work, you'll find plenty to like about High Road.