Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
Before Kesha’s new music emerged, I felt we were being prepared for it not to be very good, with stories about Sony rejecting the tracks she wanted to release. I was expecting something kooky and self-indulgent, a Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz situation. Actually, she skipped the Dead Petz and went straight to her Malibu. The storyline was that Kesha wanted to defy the commercial restrictions of major label pop, but in fact her new album is exactly what she should be releasing at this stage in her career, regardless of the legal and personal context in which she releases it. The sound is mature, but still consistent with what she’s done before, reflective of the musical influences she’s always cited, and fitting with current trends. The album doesn’t represent Kesha clinging to her pop star roots, but puts her in line with Haim, Leon Bridges, or any of the artists who reference 60s and 70s music for a Radio 2/Adult Contemporary audience. Spaceship in particular reminds me of the earthy blues-pop of Elle King, and stood out to me as the meeting point of the old and new Kesha. The lyrics express the feeling of being a misfit in a fun and quirky way, but the melody shows her musical talent and the stripped back production gives the message more depth and authenticity. I’m usually the first to say artists should listen to their teams, and let the experts make the musical decisions, but in this case the artist was the one who knew best. It’s a pretty heart-warming turn of events.