Kesha Gets Painstakingly Honest About What She’s Been Through on New Album Gag Order.
Kesha’s fifth studio album, Gag Order, has been released and provides an emotionally candid view of the star’s process through healing. The album confronts difficult concepts, reflecting the up-and-down process of healing from trauma. Gag Order doesn’t shy away from expressing Kesha’s feelings, which are particularly evident in songs like ‘Too Far Gone’ and ‘Fine Line.’
The album’s openers ‘Something To Believe In,’ ‘Eat The Acid,’ and ‘Living In My Head’ stand to set the album’s tone, which in a nutshell, is brilliantly erratic. ‘Something To Believe In’ reflects on the lack of control felt as a trauma process and its implications on the mind. Kesha’s angelic vocals echo out the message of what happens when the world falls apart as she sings, “Minds been racing like a stallion/While I watch it all collapsing/Kill the chaos, find the balance/’Round we go, around we go.’
‘Eat The Acid’ serves as a warning about the downsides of finding out the truth. There are religious themes present as it references the biblical tale of Adam and Eve through its lyrics, “You said, “Don’t ever eat the acid if/You don’t want to be changed as it changed me.” Kesha’s reflection on the decision to open her eyes to the truth is a moment of vulnerable
‘Living in My Head’ is an intimate guitar-plucked and hummed ballad full of emotional lyrics delivered through raw vocals. The song carries with it emotional devastation and exhaustion as Kesha wonders when the pain will end and states that she’s insecure and continues to self-loathe.
The album’s fourth track ‘Fine Line’ heavily alludes to the publicity brought to her ongoing legal battles as well as the impact it’s had on her. This is most evident in the song’s final lines, which say, “There’s a fine line between what’s entertaining/and what’s just exploiting the pain/but, hey, look at all the money we made off me.”
The album carries much of its emotional weight in its lyrics. The album’s sound reflects the ever-changing landscape that can come with healing from trauma. But the album comes with songs reflecting self-acceptance, admist the introspective tracks. A theme evident in the song ‘Only Love Can Save Us Now’ carries heavy religious themes during the song’s chorus.
The album’s fifth track has a similar energy to Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way.’ But ‘Only Love Can Save Us Now’ remains distinct in its own right as its backing switches between a gritty and electronic beat during the verses and a bluegrass and choral-supported chorus.
A stand-out track on the album is ‘Too Far Gone’ where Kesha provides some introspective on the impact of walking away from a relationship has on people. The chorus carries with it layers of angelic voices in the background as the ‘TikTok’ singer asks, “Am I missing you, or am I missing pieces of me?/Am I missing you, or am I missing who I used to be.”
It is situated between two other notable tracks, ‘Ram Dass Interlude,’ which is a mashup of distorted spoken word audio over a growing synthetic crescendo. Towards the end of the track, the sound and spoken turns become increasingly darker and slowed as it chillingly says, “You’d rather be vulnerable and be hurt/Than be living dead.”
And coming after ‘Too Far Gone’ is ‘Peace & Quiet’ which is an honest testament to the ups and downs Kesha faces and a warning to future partners. The song’s pre-chorus is littered with rhetorical questions as Kesha wonders, “Maybe I should learn to be alone/Maybe I could do this on my own/Maybe I could stop and take a breath/Maybe I could love a little less.”
‘Only Love Reprise’ begins the final trio of songs off the album as it features a wind-wooden melody with a child’s voice that seems to affirm moving on as she says, “I am one with what I am.” Following this declaration,m reminiscent voices of the ‘Only Love Can Save Us Now’ choir echo the same message they did in their original fifth track position.
‘Hate Me Harder’ is a direct message to people who decide to give unsolicited opinions to Kesha as well as reclaiming her power as she states over an upbeat melody, “Luckily the jokes on you/I have nothing to prove/So if hating me helps you love yourself/Do your worst baby, gimme hell.”
The final track, ‘Happy,’ is the culmination of the past whirlwind of emotions as its guitar-strummed melody reflects the carefree attitude Kesha has adopted in the process of moving past her troubles. She sings, “I wasn’t ready for it all/There’s so many things I’d change, but I can’t/There’s so many things I said that I wish I left unsaid/Time’s passin’ me by/Gotta just laugh, so i don’t cry.”
In totality, the album reflects the constantly switching and, at times, contradictory feelings and thoughts that compete within the mind of someone healing from trauma. The album is a powerful piece of work alongside a mix of experimental sounds that ultimately reach Kesha’s audience.
Stream Gag Order, now available on all streaming platforms.