Kesha's had a hellish few years. The 'We R Who We R' hitmaker has been locked in a gruesome, widely publicised legal battle with Dr. Luke, her producer of 10 years, alleging the producer of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment, gender violence, emotional abuse, and violation of California business practices. She's done all of this while inescapably locked into a contract with Dr. Luke's company Kasz Money, which, needless to say, has seen her career output come to a halt.
That is, until yesterday's release of 'Praying', a gut-wrenching confessional tune that plays out with brutal honesty. The track begins with a spoken prayer that could have almost been ripped directly from the Psalms:
If I am alive, why?
If there is a God or whatever, something, somewhere
Why have I been abandoned by everyone and everything I've ever known, I've ever loved?
What is the lesson?
What is the point?
God, give me a sign, or I have to give up.
I can't do this anymore.
The opening strains of the piano ballad leave no doubt as to the crosshaired target of the tune:
Well, you almost had me fooled
Told me that I was nothing without you
Oh, but after everything you've done
I can thank you for how strong I have become
(What's insane is that, due to being still contractually stuck to Dr. Luke's label, this song couldn't be released without his approval.)
As the song progresses, arcing towards a huge musical climax, Kesha keeps hammering home this resolute chorus:
I hope you're somewhere praying, praying
I hope your soul is changing, changing
I hope you find your peace
Falling on your knees, praying
The result is this immensely moving, cathartic trip - it's an unrestrained prayer that bleeds through every verse. Regardless of how Kesha's gruelling journey will eventually resolve, her comeback is an open window into an artist's refuge in the spiritual power of the song to heal and transport.