High Road works to reconcile the personal anthems of 'Rainbow' (2017) with Kesha's “trashier” back catalogue (the track 'Kinky' literally featuring “Ke$ha”), whilst exploring her artistic freedom following her break with producer Dr Luke.
The result is unkempt, confusing and enjoyable: an assemblage of diverse tracks somehow held together in tension. Returns and familiarities ('Tonight', 'Kinky', 'My Own Dance') sit alongside the more left field tracks ('Raising Hell', 'The Potato Song (Cuz I Want To')) with ease.
Naturally such a scattershot album has tracks that are lacking, the most glaring being 'The Potato Song (Cuz I Want To)'. This track combines the mutated offspring of a Neutral Milk Hotel instrumental (think 'The Fool' but chipper) with juvenile lyrics about renouncing adulthood (“I’m throwing my big girl panties/ in the garbage can/ ‘cause I can”)- and briefly the titular potato. The other lows certainly aren’t as outright confusing, but still come up as bland. In this group 'Resentment' (despite noteworthy features from (the) Brian Wilson and Sturgill Simpson), 'Little Bit Of Love' and 'Chasing Thunder' can be numbered.
With their diverse mix of styles, the other tracks flaunt Kesha’s impressive range to great effect: The titular 'High Road', the gospel-bounce fusion 'Raising Hell' (featuring Big Freedia), 'Tonight', 'Shadow', 'Cowboy Blues' and 'My Own Dance' – something like 'Tik Tok' reincarnated- are particular standouts in the roster.
The most enjoyable moments on these tracks tend to come from lyrical oddities that pepper them: “Don’t circumcise my circumstance”, references to crushes too long to quote, “Yeah, now play that drum”, “Seein’ spaceships in the sky”, etc. Whilst these moments may prove jarring to some, they exemplify Kesha making the music she wants to, which is the heart of this project.