When Kesha announced last night that she was about to drop a comeback single, the Internet was excited. Her first proper single in four years, and her first solo release since the vicious court battle against her former producer Dr. Luke, ‘Praying’ is the result of years of hardship.
‘Praying’ is a stark, acoustic track that signals a huge departure from the heavily autotuned dance pop that made her a household name. Kesha lets her voice soar over piano and percussion, the arrangement far removed from her signature style, any trace of the choppy pop production of Dr. Luke extracted and binned. And yet Dr. Luke still looms large over the new single, the lyrics (co-written with Ryan Lewis) aimed squarely at her former producer who, astonishingly, she wishes well. “I hope you find your peace,” she chants amidst references to the long legal battle that “put [her] through hell.”
‘Praying’ is a long sigh of relief for Kesha, finally able to reclaim her voice after years of being silenced. “I’m proud of who I am,” she sings as the track builds to a thumping crescendo. Unlike her previous singles, it’s the humanity of Kesha’s voice that is placed centre stage here, given free reign to dominate a track that shivers with a steely determination.
There is no pop chorus here, no EDM drop or snappy, driving beat. For some Kesha fans, this will come as a disappointment. But it’s no wonder that Kesha is looking to move in a new direction. Her discography now tainted by the production of Dr. Luke, she is having to start from scratch, find her feet again and etch out a new sound. The dollar sign dropped from her name, the makeup scrubbed from her face, the electronics replaced by downbeat acoustics, this is the sound – for better or worse – of a new Kesha. So while ‘Praying’ might not be the dance anthem some were hoping for, it nonetheless heralds a new era for a Kesha, an era of change, redirection and, most importantly, freedom.