Fire Note Says:
Album Review: Everybody loves a redemption story, a tale of the tortured soul who deals with their demons, whether external or internal, and returns in full possession of their artistic gifts. Thus the tale of Kesha Rose Sebert, formerly of the $, who escaped her Svengali of a producer/label head, and entered rehab to deal with bulimia, only to return to recording with as strong and enjoyable an album as anyone could hope for. So “don’t call it a comeback,” but it has that feel.
So, this time out the live hard and “Die Young” party girl is less on display, as are her hip-hop dance floor friendly grooves, in favor of a more reflective and circumspect singer/songwriter, even if her lyrics are still NSFW. But she’s still fun, and often laugh out loud funny. Like her unique take on feminism in “Woman,” where she repeatedly refers to her self as a MF (I don’t have to spell it out, even though her lyric sheet does), and puts potential beaus in their place: “Don’t buy me a drink, I make my money/Don’t touch my weave, don’t call me honey.”
Nearly as much fun are her collaborations. For “Woman” she gets support from the Dap-Kings Horns (of the late Sharon Jones fame), and she partners with the Eagles of Death Metal twice: the bold rocker “Let ‘Em Talk,” where she tells her detractors they can “suck my dick,” and the discolicious “Boogie Feet,” which is way more fun than the legal limit. But, surprisingly best of all is the country leaning duet with Dolly Parton on “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You).” Take that Sheryl Crow, she doubled down on your Kid Rock with a pair of blondes.
So, it’s clear that Miss Kesha has managed to retain her sense of humor, and doesn’t take herself too seriously even as she expresses a Madonna-esque spiritual awakening in her first single “Praying,” but also in “Hymn,” “Learn to Let Go,” and the title track, “Rainbow.” The somewhat serious intentions are balanced against the levity of “Boots,” a sexy charmer where she warns that “if you can’t handle these claws, you don’t get this kitty,” and “Hunt You Down,” where she threatens that if the current object of her affection betrays her, she will “Hunt You Down.”
The disc opens with Kesha alone playing “Bastards” on acoustic guitar and sets the tone with the declaration that no needs let the “mean girls” or other haters “bring you down.” But it’s pure 21st century pop from start to finish, and a complete surprise to those who might have thought Kesha was just a flash in the pan. This singer/songwriter is ready for her close-up.
Key Tracks: “Praying” / “Boogie Feet” / “Woman”
Artists With Similar Fire: Katy Perry / Lady Gaga / Rihanna
– Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb