Review: Lenny Kravitz – Raise Vibration
Who wouldn’t accuse Lenny Kravitz of showing off upon hearing him sing, halfway through his 11th album: “Just hold me like Johnny Cash/ When I lost my mother”? He is, after all, a man who once insisted his partner, Vanessa Paradis, sing the lyrics: “He’s so funky and he’s looking so good” about him.
Still, something about how he continues – “Whisper in my ear/ Like June Carter” – ensures that it’s the empathy exhibited on this song, which was inspired by the unlikely circumstances in which he learned of his mother’s passing, that endures long after those names have been dropped.
Indeed, his first album since 2014’s Strut is full of attempts to find positivity in times of hardship. At times, admittedly, he appears as muddle-headed as The Magic Roundabout’s Dylan: “We’ve got to raise vibration,” he advises confusingly on the title track, which begins with a bluesy Led Zeppelin riff and ends with a Native American drum circle. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that his intentions are honourable, as underlined by Here To Love, a ballad which declares from the outset that: “We must all unite, for we are one creation” before concluding with a gospel choir.
Better still is the eight-minute It’s Enough, which shifts from despair at racially motivated shootings to political commentary – “What’s that going down in the Middle East?/ Do you really think it’s to keep the peace?” – before its What’s Going On quality is extended by a trumpet solo and an unlikely burst of scat singing.
There are also more Marvin Gaye-style grooves on The Majesty Of Love, while his 5 More Days ‘Til Summer exhibits innocent excitement worthy of Sesame Street.
Who Really Are The Monsters? perhaps states the obvious – “The war won’t stop as long as we keep dropping bombs” – but if this sounds like he’s sermonising, fear not. The track’s fuelled by a dirty, urgent guitar line, giddy, Prince-like keyboards and a fierce sax solo. Hell, even Michael Jackson can be heard whooping on the punchy funk of Low. Three decades on, Kravitz remains determined to let love rule.
Written by Wyndham Wallace. Released on BMG.