While she’s been through a lot, she’s still the same irreverent and profane artist we loved. The trashy club kid singing about being yourself has turned into a strong woman who discovered the importance of practicing what you preach. If any other artist produced Rainbow, we’d dismiss it as an incoherent album. However, Kesha makes it work though sheer force of personality.
Rainbow starts with the “Bastards,” a country rocker that would have fit in perfect at Lillith Fair. A resilient Kesha warns fans:
“Don’t let the bastards get you down/Oh no Don’t let the assholes wear you out/Don’t let the mean girls take the crown.”
Kesha does a complete 180 with “Let ‘Em Talk” featuring The Eagles of Death Metal. “Let ‘Em Talk” sounds like a reject from the 2000s pop-punk scene, which makes it oddly endearing. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became the theme to a new teen movie.
The crown jewel of Rainbow is “Woman.” It’s pure Kesha. The song is an irreverent, profane, bouncy female empowerment anthem. Not only does she want the world to know she’s “a motherfucking woman,” she wants her female fans to sing along.
“Hymn” is another highlight. Kesha knows how to empower her fans without getting preachy. On this song she sings, “This is a hymn for the Him-less, kids with no religion.” During the rousing chorus Kesha proclaims, “I know I’m perfect, even though I’m fucked up.” A clever line that sums up everything one needs to know about Kesha.
The next track is “Praying,” which has gotten the most press because it’s about Kesha forgiving those who hurt her. While the song is meaningful and will certainly help fans through tough times. It, along with “Learn To Let Go,” “Finding You,” and “Rainbow,” brings the party to a screeching halt as the mood changes from gleefully celebrating what makes you different to acknowledging it takes a while to get to that point.
“Hunt You Down” is another mood change. It’s an outlaw country-inspired song with reference to Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line.” If you didn’t know Kesha’s mother is a country songwriter, you’d think it was a bizarrely blatant attempt to break into country radio. Instead, it’s simply Kesha showing her roots.
“Boogie Feat” recalls Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” which isn’t a song anyone wanted to remember. This is the weakest track on Rainbow because it’s a trashy pop-punky song featuring one of the Eagles of Death Metal doing his best Elvis impersonation.
Rounding out the album are “Boots,” a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You),” “Godzilla,” and “Spaceship.” They all are unique and add value to the album, but were a weak way to end it. “Old Flames (Can’t Hold a Candle to You)” is only notable because Dolly Parton joins Kesha and Kesha’s mother wrote the song.
With all of Rainbow’s flaws, it’s a powerful album from an artist who has been to hell and back. It’s equal parts fun and touching. Kesha still wants everyone to embrace who they are, but now she relays those messages while sober and with minimal use of autotune. More importantly, the albums mixture of country and rock influences along with its positive messages makes this the perfect album for all the outcasts who don’t fit into one category.
Rating: 8 out of 10