Given the events that have occurred since the release of her last album five years ago, it's fair to assume that 'Rainbow' was never going to be chock-full of the carefree party bangers that had become Kesha's stock in trade. What's less expected, however, are guest appearances by Dolly Parton and Eagles of Death Metal. Josh Homme and Jesse Hughes add muscle and bluster to the buzzsaw pop-punk of 'Let 'Em Talk' and the schlocky B-movie horror of 'Boogie Feet', while Parton plays the sage on the country-tinged ballad 'Old Flames (Can't Hold A Candle To You)'.
Elsewhere, it's anthems of strength, defiance and femininity across the board, and Kesha's not holding back. If nothing else, 'Rainbow' sounds as if it were an extraordinarily cathartic record to make. At their best, these tracks are rousing works that capture the fine balance between the personal and universal. When they're less good, however, Kesha's tendency to over-sing dominates, and she occupies the same milieu that Pink has milked for the better part of two decades.
You get the sense that the person for whom 'Rainbow' will be most important is Kesha herself. Musically, it's a little all over the place. Diversions into country pastiche are frequent, and there's also a track concerning the pitfalls of introducing Godzilla to your Mum. This relative genre-hopping makes it difficult to get to grips with 'Rainbow', and means the only consistent theme running through the album is Kesha's message of strength and surviving.
Too many of today's chart-botherers are anodyne robots who wouldn't know a decent quip if their life depended on it, so it's always a delight to have Kesha in the limelight. It's just that 'Rainbow' is a muddled hotch-potch that offers little beyond the fact it heralds her return. It's great to have Kesha back - it really is - but let's hope the quality improves in future.
Words: Joe Rivers
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