There’s something oddly out of touch about Lenny Kravitz’s new record.
There’s something oddly out of touch about Lenny Kravitz’s new record, Raise Vibration. There was a time when the power of positivity could seep through his music without sounding contrived or hokey. If you pull out your copy of Let Love Rule, you can recall a day when he sounded sincere, meaningful, original and full of life despite such a simple sentiment. It’s a different time now. Our modern media is awash with bad news and negativity, and often we can count on artists to provide perspective or at the very least to help us relate or rebel. Kravitz is not really doing any of those things when he sings a trite chorus on “We Can Get It All Together.” While the drum patterns rock on the first few tracks, the album is also a long way from “Are You Gonna Go My Way.” It’s as though the evolution of Kravitz, the artist, has gone in a completely new direction, and it’s not entirely satisfying.
“Low” and “Who Really Are the Monsters?” are experiments in disco and alternative pop music. Neither plays to the strengths of the Lenny Kravitz that people have come to love. Perhaps more importantly, neither offers anything compelling or catchy. The latter of those two tracks actually brings out a breakdown of calypso tracks and breakbeats. The title track is one of the most rocked-out entries on the album, mainly because of its reliance on guitar licks and Kravitz’s attention to detail. But when the beat kicks in about a quarter of the way through the song, it’s still a long way from rock ‘n’ roll. Instead, we have a once-popular artist, who can still draw a crowd, simply resting on his laurels.
That’s not to say it’s all bad. If you can get by a sentiment as hollow as “We are here to love/ There’s no time to waste,” you might find something redeeming near the end of the record; “5 More Days ’Til Summer” turns out to be one of the most exciting tracks, and Kravitz doesn’t over-sing it. Throughout the track, the chorus is on repeat and eventually gives rise to a choir full of young students singing the chorus on their own time. “The Majesty of Love” is a multilayered and hyper-dramatic vignette exploring the elements of disco. Similarly, “Ride” brings a beautiful melody to that rather trite genre.
It’s easy to develop a romantic mental picture of the aging rock star, but the reality of Kravitz’s latest work is far less appealing. As he meanders his way through the melodic but odd “Johnny Cash,” there’s at least a nice ballad to help create the mood that was intended. But cheesy power ballad “Here to Love” offers a message of racial peace that should be inspiring and moving but instead, like the album as a whole, fails to offer anything new or fresh. If you’re looking for positivity in 2018, you’re also probably looking for truth. That’s in short supply here.