Context – running errands
This album is a strange one, to be sure. Stylistically Kesha is a bit all over the place on her latest release, Rainbow. I really wanted to say that the only constant through-line on this album was her revamped vocal delivery. Or maybe her deep cuts have always been this raw or focused or some buzz word I’m ill-equipped to dish out confidently. But even that fell back to the more nasally delivery from her “Tik-Tok” days towards the end of the album.
Songs like the uber-emotional “Praying” are where she seems most at home with this new vocal delivery she’s putting out into the world. Or maybe those instrumentals are just more subdued to let her vocals shine. I found myself least distracted during these moments, and “Praying” has me damn-near tears every time.
But then she also does this weird pop-rock/pop-punk influenced thing on songs like “Boogie Feet” and “Let ‘Em Talk”. Which she can pull off, she’s a super talented vocalist. It’s just a bit jarring to hear her slay an Avril Lavigne impression this late into her career.
She shifts focus yet again on “Finding You”, “Hunt You Down” and “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You)” into a more country-based flavor of pop. These songs are super fun, and again she can pull it off, but it’s a weird juxtaposition next to the other styles she plays with on Rainbow.
And as I already mentioned, she abandons this confident new vocal delivery towards the end of the album, sounding like she did in songs like “Timber”. These are my least favorite moments on the album, so much so that I have no intention of even finding the songs I’m mad about.
The overall effect is a bubbly, more energetic pop album than 2017 is used to. Rainbow is a stark contrast to the albums Lorde and Katy Perry put out earlier in the year, even with its eclectic mix of genres and influences. I liked this album more than most pop albums I’ve heard this year, but the lack of cohesion prevents me from singing too many praises in Kesha’s direction. Individually these are mostly solid tracks that I enjoy out of context, but an album they do not make.
I personally hope Kesha lands somewhere between her pop ballads and the country influences demonstrated on this album. I’m interested to see which Kesha other people gravitate towards.