Review: It's messy and crazy and deep—Kesha returns roaring

This cover image released by Kemosabe/RCA Records shows "High Road" by Kesha.


“High Road”

Label: RCA Records

Released: Jan. 31, 2020

Kesha’s new album starts out on a portentous and soaring note with the singer on the opening song “Tonight” in full Broadway mode, belting out “Take me out toooonniiiigghht.” But 40 seconds in, it dissolves into a messy club banger complete with random expletives, crowd screams, a lost phone and the singer high and drunk as she readies to hit the town.

In other words, welcome back, Kesha.

“High Road” is Kesha at her wonderfully anarchic, tipsy, profound and goofy best. Few artists can portray themselves as silly, airy party girls and then utterly subvert that very image, all in the same song. “I don’t do that dance,” she warns us on the new album. “I only do my own dance.”

“High Road” has a complex mix of textures, ranging from the gospel-influenced dance hall of “Raising Hell” with Big Freedia to the somber country of “Resentment” with Sturgill Simpson, Wrabel and Brian Wilson.

It wouldn’t be a Kesha record without some funny recorded vignettes — in one, the Spice Girls are gently mocked — or bizarre songs that are strangely addictive, like the utterly oddball, tuba-led “Potato Song (Cuz I Want To).”

Track highlight: The sweet “BFF,” which is both incredibly specific to Kesha — rehab, tattoo, dark times, Grammys — and also a sweet ode to friendship. Pebe Sebert, Kesha’s mom, is a co-writer and offers backup vocals. “You build me up/When I’m feeling low, low, low.” That’s also what Kesha does best. Welcome back.

— Mark Kennedy, AP entertainment writer

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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