Whether you’re a hardcore Kesha stan or just looking for a new pop album to check out, Kesha’s new album, High Road is a must-listen. Fans of her last album, Rainbow, will recall the heavy emotional features of songs like “Praying,” but this new album is more lighthearted and features a number of absolute bops. Kesha told Rolling Stone “On the last record, I feel like I had to address some very serious things, and now this time around I have reclaimed my love of life…I am so happy, and I hope that happiness is infectious.”
Her hopes have come true, as the album is absolutely full of infectious joy. I’ll take you through the album song by song, reviewing each track. Fans of High Road will be pleased to know that The High Road Tour begins on April 23rd. The tour is mostly in the Unites States, but there are stops in Windsor, Ontario, as well as in London.
High Road opens with “Tonight,” which is like a sequel to Kesha’s 2009 hit “Tik Tok.” It’s an evolved version of that classic Kesha sound. The song starts out as a piano ballad, but it quickly jumps into a pop banger. This is the perfect song to play in order to get yourself pumped up for a night of carefree partying. Blast it while getting ready for a night out or while driving to the club with your friends.
2. My Own Dance
The second song on the album, “My Own Dance” serves as a thesis for the album as a whole. The lyrics express how Kesha refuses to be pigeon-holed as a specific type of artist or to only make the music that others want her to make. She proves this with the musical choices in the song; the verses and bridge are backed by gentle guitar sounds, whereas the chorus uses drum beats that you can dance to. With “My Own Dance,” Kesha proves that maturing doesn’t mean becoming boring, and it is the perfect anthem for being yourself and reclaiming your life.
3. Raising Hell feat. Big Freedia
Kesha has truly blessed us with 3 songs in a row that absolutely slap. “Raising Hell” is another dance bop, this time drawing some inspiration from gospel music. She references gospel and religious imagery such as wearing your Sunday best and speaking in tongues, and the interlude (featuring Big Freedia) sounds almost inspired by a pumped up church service, with an organ backing the vocals. The song celebrates a shameless love of getting “all fucked up” and raising hell while having a great time living your life.
4. High Road
With the album’s titular song, “High Road,” Kesha brings us more of her classic sound. The song is mostly electronic, later adding snare drum beats to complement the chorus. In the song, she addresses how she refuses to be brought down by criticism. Instead, she chooses to rise above and laugh at her haters. There’s a humor in the lyrics; she brags about having multiple number one hits, which is not an example of taking the high road. Kesha addressed this joke in an interview with Radio, stating that “the irony of the title is why I chose that to be the name of the record.”
After a series of upbeat pop songs, “Shadow” switches things up. It starts out slow and gentle, with piano backing her vocals, and it grows bigger and louder during the chorus. She is joined by an orchestra, giving a sense that the sound of the song is swelling. “Shadow” is another song about refusing to be brought down by the judgment of others; Kesha refuses to let others cast a shadow on her happiness. If you loved the high notes Kesha hit in her 2017 song “Praying,” watch out for this song where you’ll get to hear them once again.
“Honey” is for those who have ever lost a friend due to betrayal. The song is stripped down compared to the other tracks, with little musical backing and mostly a focus on Kesha’s voice (joined by backing vocals from Tayla Parx). The acoustic sound embodies the mixture of sadness and “good riddance” that one feels over ending a close friendship.
7. Cowboy Blues
This track is for everyone who wants to combine their love of ukulele with their love of Kesha. Another acoustic song, “Cowboy Blues” brings us reflections on missed opportunities in relationships, wondering how life would have turned out differently if you took a different path. Although the song is about thinking back on a particular man, lesbians can relate to her lyrics about lying in bed with her three cats and pining for love.
8. Resentment feat. Sturgill Simpson, Brian Wilson, and Wrabel
Fans of Rainbow will recall Kesha’s ability to sing country songs like “Old Flames,” and Kesha delivers once again with “Resentment.” In an album full of pop bangers, “Resentment” is a mournful country ballad. She sings about the pain of becoming disconnected from your lover, being let down by them, and feeling resentment build. “Resentment” proves Kesha’s point from “My Own Dance” — she doesn’t limit herself to only party songs, but she is able to produce poignant country music as well. Country cred is magnified by this track’s feature credit to Sturgill Simpson, the song writer with a bad-boy image that’s currently shaking up the country status quo. It also features Brian Wilson, whose unorthodox approach to pop is really a perfect match for Kesha. The video for this track was shot by Kesha herself on her phone.
9. Little Bit of Love
The verses of “Little Bit of Love” are simple musically, but they build into an explosive chorus with backing vocals. It captures the feeling of struggle in a relationship on the rocks, and the booming chorus parallels the lyrics of trying to claim a sense of empowerment while demanding the love that you want.
10. Birthday Suit
“Birthday Suit” uses sounds and beats reminiscent of old video games like Super Mario Brothers. The music is nostalgic of the video games from childhood, evoking a sense of playfulness that compliments the fun, flirty lyrics about wanting to hook up with someone for the first time.
11. Kinky feat. Ke$ha
With “Kinky,” Kesha embraces sexual freedom and rejects societal norms around sexuality. The music is more of her signature electronic sounds that could be perfect for anything from dancing to roller disco. You might notice that the song is billed as featuring Ke$ha. In other words, Kesha collaborated with her past musical style. In an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, she stated that “i [sic] really want to reclaim all sides of my voice on this album and embrace where I’m at everything I’ve gone through, and that includes Ke$ha. She was how I first got introduced to this world and how I met so many of my fans and also I’m kinda taking the piss of the fact that I have 2 names. i think sense of humor is a big part of my personality and i want to make sure i maintain that and my fans should know i dont take myself that seriously.”
12. The Potato Song (Cuz I Want To)
“The Potato Song” is an intentionally silly and playful song. It starts out with oom-pah music, features kazoos, and it even samples Ginuwine’s song “Pony” during the chorus. Kesha told fans that the song is “basically about my 10 year goal. i want to live in an island with the freedom to run around naked and grow potatoes, one of my many long term life goals.”
“BFF” features dreamy sounds reminiscent of 80s music. Musically simple and gentle, the song celebrates the value of having a best friend with which you can do and say anything. It honors the sense of having a friend who makes you feel at home.
14. Father Daughter Dance
In an album full of upbeat tracks about happiness, “Father Daughter Dance” switches things up. The slow song showcases Kesha’s voice, with gentle orchestral backing, as she sings about the pain of growing up without a father. Kesha told fans on Reddit that “father daughter dance was an incredibly difficult song to write and i’m nervous for everyone to hear it but i’m excited for people to hear my story that they’ve never heard before.”
15. Chasing Thunder
“Chasing Thunder” showcases Kesha’s craft as an artist. With a quick beat and a chorus of backing vocals, she captures a triumphant sound that feels like running towards something, which parallels her lyrics about running free and refusing to be tied down.
The album closes with “Summer,” another song that highlights the power of Kesha’s vocals. The backing music is upbeat and delightfully booming, but her voice refuses to be overpowered. “Summer” is hard to define with a genre because it features anything from country banjo sounds to brass music. It’s the perfect song to make you smile when you’re feeling nostalgia over spending time with a friend that you haven’t seen in a while.