Kesha’s ‘Gag Order’ a powerful reminder that no one should be silenced
Honest. If there was one word that could describe Kesha’s newest album “Gag Order,” this would be it. The fifth album of the Grammy-nominated pop singer-songwriter is something that is out of left field—from the production to its visuals and lyricism. Kesha molds it into something powerful, raw and visceral.
In 2014, Kesha accused her collaborator Dr. Luke of sexual assault and battery. The latter denied the allegations and filed a countersuit for defamation.
In 2020, a judge dismissed Kesha’s sexual assault and battery claims and ordered her to pay more than $370,000 (P20 million) as prejudgment interest due to a breach in her contract with Dr. Luke’s label KMI. The singer’s highly publicized legal battle with Dr. Luke is not over yet, and the defamation case is still ongoing. The trial is set to begin on July 26.
The outcome of the trial could have a significant impact on both Kesha’s and Dr. Luke’s careers. If Kesha is found to have defamed Dr. Luke, she could be ordered to pay him damages, and vice versa. Through it all, Kesha never gave up. She continued to speak out about her experiences and kept making music.
“Gag Order” is a departure from her previous two albums, “High Road” and “Rainbow.” While those albums were playful pop, “Gag Order” is different. Within the depths of her grittier experimental art-pop masterpiece, the newly minted record delves into uncharted musical territories. The album’s title serves as a poignant reminder of her constrained reality, a legal muzzle preventing her from openly discussing her harrowing battle against Dr. Luke.
The album is also a reflection of Kesha’s experiences as a woman in the music industry. It deals with themes of abuse, trauma and resilience, and features songs that are raw and emotional, and whose lyrics offer a glimpse into the singer’s inner turmoil.
“I have put every ounce of my truth into this album. The stakes have never felt higher,” the singer wrote on Instagram. With 13 tracks, the album is lean. It is produced by Rick Rubin, who is known for his work with artists such as Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Adele.
“Gag Order” opens with the atmospheric “Something to Believe In.” As the haunting lyrics reverberate in the track “Eat the Acid,” Kesha’s voice carries a profound message: Is “Gag Order” merely a cautionary tale, a desperate plea for help, or a source of catharsis?
The fifth track hits the home run. “Only Love Can Save Us Now” commences with an electronic soundscape that seamlessly melds into a chorus embellished with acoustic guitar. As Kesha’s vocals soar, it is accompanied by the harmonious resonance of a gospel choir. “I wanted my song to sonically, lyrically and emotionally reflect the severity of my mental pendulum swings. The world is so overwhelming sometimes… This song is a desperate and angry prayer. A call to the light when all feels lost.” Kesha wrote on Twitter.
A powerful tool
The hard-hitting lyrics about being silenced on the case is powerful: I’m getting sued because my mom has been tweeting/Don’t f*cking tell me that I’m dealing with reason.
Each song on “Gag Order” maintains the motif of Kesha’s struggle, combining powerful sonic landscapes with intimate narratives. They hit listeners like a lightning bolt striking a tree, or a tsunami crashing against the shore. They offer a glimpse into Kesha’s inner turmoil, like a window into a dark and stormy night.
“Gag Order” is an important album. It is a reminder that music can be a powerful tool for healing and empowerment. Despite the album’s dark subject matter, its ability to empower is undeniable. Kesha’s voice is strong and defiant, and she refuses to be silenced.
The album is a must-listen for anyone who has ever been through trauma or who has ever felt silenced. It is an album that will stay with you long after you have finished listening to it. INQ