Kesha released her fourth album, “High Road,” on Jan. 31, distinguishing her artistic growth while continuing to incorporate youthful themes from her earlier work.
Opening with a piano solo, “Tonight,” the album’s first track, quickly switches its tone by incorporating layered autotuned vocals, immediately reminding me of Kesha’s sound in her first album, “Animal,” released Jan. 2010.
Bringing a smoother sound, “My Own Dance,” the album’s second track, felt less experimental with its production than the album’s first track. Kesha seemed to find her footing after more than two years since her last album, “Rainbow,” released August 2017. Kesha exudes independence with lyrics, “Don’t circumcise my circumstance.”
Featuring Big Freedia, “Raising Hell,” radiates as an upbeat and positive anthem, using lyrics to encourage celebration, “Take this as your validation // You don’t need to hide, we’re celebrating // This is our salvation.” Creating a sense of fullness, the production uses a mixture of horns, different drums and pop vocals.
“High Road,” incorporates electronic synths and catchy vocals. Spelling out “K-E-S-H-A,” the song reminded me of “Dinosaur,” a track off Kesha’s first album, which spelled out “D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R.”
“Shadow,” sounds much slower, stripped down and honest than previous tracks. Kesha allowed listeners a closer look into her compassion, “I’ma love you even though you hate me // I’ma love you even though you hate.”
Witty in attitude, “Honey,” illustrates Kesha cutting ties with a former best friend. Using a similar style to Twenty One Pilots by “talk-singing,” I enjoyed hearing Kesha hold nothing back as she sang“I don’t talk s*** unless it’s true // You smell that? Damn it must be you.”
Possibly my favorite song on the album, “Cowboy Blues,” the album’s seventh track, spoke on the humor of falling in love too easy. Kesha surprised me by still sounding relatable while using extremely specific lyrics, “Do you ever lie in bed with your three cats // And get obsessed with some boy you met // One time three years ago in Nashville.”
“Resentment,” the album’s eight track, sounded very singer-songwriter using an acoustic guitar and smooth vocals. Initially shocking me by its message, I found myself reflecting on past relationships and how deeply someone can hurt you, “I don’t hate you babe, it’s worse than that // ‘Cause you hurt me and I don’t react.”
Sounding childlike and carefree, “Little Bit of Love,” the albums ninth track, used quick paced piano with a strong beat to give an overall positive feel that just works.
“Birthday Suit,” sounds digital, synthy and straight to the point with its lyrics, “I wanna get you in your birthday suit // Who’s gonna be the first to make a move?” Kesha has always embraced her youthful outlook on life, and “Birthday Suit” seems to really capture that aspect.
“Kinky,” opens with a voicemail between Kesha and her mother before building to a catchy chorus with strong production and auto-tuned vocals.
“The Potato Song (Cuz I Want To),” sounds campy yet well thought out, using carnival sounding horns and relaxed vocals. Kesha describes her youthfulness in the lyrics while singing “But now I see growing up’s a game that I don’t wanna play, oh no // I’m over adulthood.”
“BFF,” makes me smile by reminding me of my best friend and our memories together. The song uses lyrics to describe moments in a friendship, such as, “When I’m with my best friend I feel like myself again // Always make me laugh until I’m crying.”
The album’s final track, “Chasing Thunder,” leaves Kesha’s vocals in the spotlight. Kesha describes her carefree lifestyle as she sings “It doesn't mean I’m lost, I just like to wander.” Clapping and backup vocals give this track a unique, communal sound.
Overall, I was genuinely surprised that I ended up enjoying this album. A former Kesha fan, I fell off listening to her music after her first album, but can now appreciate her talent in not only singing but songwriting. I would recommend this album to anyone wanting to feel uplifted and inspired.