Kesha, "Rainbow" (RCA Records)
There's a beautiful way that Kesha delivers the screeching high note near the end of "Praying," the first single from her first album in five years, "Rainbow."
It's not technically perfect, but musically, it's flawless. This is freedom.
The touching piano song — with lyrics like "no more monsters, I can breathe again" — showcases a newer, stronger Kesha. Though she has been singing for years, she is now truly saying something.
"Rainbow" is the 30-year-old's first time creating music commercially without her former collaborator and mentee, Dr. Luke. Since 2010, they have made countless Top 10 hits, from "TiK ToK" to "We R Who We R," and also co-wrote songs together for Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus. Before that, Kesha sang background on tracks Dr. Luke produced for other artists.
The two have been at war, though, since Kesha claimed the producer drugged, sexually abused and psychologically tormented her. Dr. Luke is denying the allegations.
Some of the new songs, like "Praying" and opener "Bastards," could be directed at Dr. Luke, but the album is more about Kesha, and her growth. Producers on "Rainbow" include Ricky Reed, Andrew Pearson and Ryan Lewis (from the rap duo with Macklemore).
"Hymn," co-written with her mother Pebe Sebert, is irresistible and anthemic; "Learn to Let Go" is upbeat and punchy; and "Woman," featuring The Dap-Kings Horns, is empowering and bouncy. The silly Kesha, who joked about brushing her teeth in Jack Daniels, is still here, too, though the gimmick is gone. Overall, Kesha glows, and "Rainbow" is radiant.