"We get it that you've been through a lot of shit," Kesha sings on her new album, High Road. "But life's a bitch, so come on, shake your tits and fuck it." That pep talk is the thesis statement of the pro pop star's fourth album, which arrived on Friday (January 31), and which bridges the gap between the rowdiness of Animal-era Ke$ha and the hard-won wisdom from 2017's healing Rainbow. Because who says you can't have it both ways?
Rainbow marked Kesha's comeback after a five-year silence prompted by her legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, whom she accused of sexual assault. On that album, Kesha sang out her struggles, while carving out a little room for some of her stomping, oddball pop. She continues that balancing act on High Road, but the scales tip more toward optimism and playfulness. "Find my pictures under 'legends' if you Google me," she boasts on "Honey." The quirky, tuba-led "Potato Song (Cuz I Want To)" features the equally quotable lyric, "I'll be naked because I want to!" Then there's the horny "Birthday Suit," which samples sounds from '80s video games, and the shimmering, raunchy "Kinky," billed as a duet between her and her crass alter ego Ke$ha.
When she's not partying with a vengeance, the 32-year-old is down for a little therapy and self-reflection. On "Shadow," she dances in the rain and trips out in the desert while searching for spaceships. The stripped-down "Cowboy Blues" is a tender ballad about regret, "Father Daughter Dance" finds her spilling out family confessions, and "Resentment" is a somber collaboration with Wrabel, Brian Wilson, and Sturgill Simpson.
Kesha fans have been patiently waiting for High Road ever since the Freedia-featuring lead single, "Raising Hell," dropped back in October. On that gospel-inspired banger, she sang of being a "holy mess" with a "heart of gold." On High Road, that proves an absolutely winning combination. Stream the new album in its entirely below.