'Rainbow' by Kesha is a colorful, emotional journey. Three out of five stars.
Animals rejoice, Kesha is back! No longer spelling her name with the signature dollar sign, Kesha returns to present a variety of sounds to enjoy on her latest album, Rainbow.
All in all, Rainbow is almost a wholly different beast when compared to Kesha's earlier albums. She includes some '70s vibes, country twang, a few horns, piano and some stripped-down acoustic guitar playing. Yet, Kesha still brings her dance-inducing pop and synthesizer use to the table as well.
The first track, "Bastards," would likely surprise a casual Kesha fan. It's mostly just acoustic strumming and Kesha's voice. While not one of the albums highlights, "Bastards" sets the tone for the rest of the album by giving the listener a very different experience than what would traditionally be expected from Kesha. It prepares the listener for more new, possibly unexpected, sounds later on in the album.
With the exception of the second song, "Let 'Em Talk" (which features the Eagles of Death Metal), Rainbow doesn't really hit its full stride until the fifth song, "Praying." Kesha's first original piano-driven power ballad, "Praying" is about struggling to come to terms with being hurt by someone. It's easily the best track on the album. Kesha sings, "I hope you're somewhere praying. I hope your soul is changing. I hope you find your peace. Falling on your knees, praying." The song showcases Kesha's vocal strength, and it's a gripping listen that builds effectively.
After "Praying," the album keeps the hits coming. "Learn To Let Go," "Finding You" and "Hunt You Down" are all great pop songs that each have a distinct feel to them, with "Hunt You Down" bringing Kesha's country side into play. "Boogie Feet" (also featuring the Eagles of Death Metal) is an undeniably fun dance song, which Kesha obviously knows how to do well. Additionally, the title track "Rainbow" stands out as a sentimental and hopeful slow song in the mix.
On the back side of the album, Dolly Parton makes an appearance. She joins Kesha for a duet of Parton's 1980 cover song "Old Flames (Cant Hold a Candle To You)." The song was actually co-written by Kesha's mother, Pebe Sebert; it holds some personal meaning for Kesha. It's interesting to hear the two singers deliver a new version of the song.
The last two tracks are fairly laid back. "Godzilla" is a humorous, poetic and simple song about being in love with someone who causes problems. Kesha asks, "What do you get when you meet Godzilla and fall in love?" In the final song, "Spaceship," Kesha says she's waiting for her spaceship to come back for her and take her away, possibly after death. It's an enjoyable, western-science-fiction-y song that features banjo playing and some quivering, almost yodel-like, vocals by Kesha. She finishes the track with some existential statements on life – which are generally more hippy-sounding than enlightening. "Spaceship" is a fitting conclusion that ends with what seems like the muffled sound of rocket boosters firing up.
Ultimately, Rainbow is a welcome return for the pop musician many have missed. The album exhibits some of Kesha's familiar traits, while also expanding on her established sound. It will likely win over old and new fans alike. While the lyrics on the album are hit-and-miss, and a few tracks seem somewhat lazy overall as far as the vision behind them, Rainbow is a promising addition to Kesha's repertoire. It's safe to say there's a pot of gold glitter at the end of this Rainbow.