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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny

Review by Gary Hill

Lenny Kravitz is a very talented musician, make no mistake. He, like only a handful of artists, records his albums almost completely unassisted. He is also a good songwriter. He just seems to be having a problem finding his own place musically. Certainly he has achieved a huge amount of commercial success. So, he doesn't need me to tell him what he is or is not doing right. However, in many ways he still seems to be too connected to his musical roots. His sound seems not to have really grown over the years, at least in part because he has not been able to let go and be himself. All that said, I don't think there is a bad Lenny Kravitz album on the market. Every one of them will certainly entertain, and this one is no exception. It just seems that he could be even greater than he is. The albums that he has put out, this one included, would be fine in most artist's catalogs. It just seems that maybe he has stopped reaching for more. That would be a shame because he is capable of so much more. For an example of just a glimpse of where he could go, one needs look no further than the song "You Were In My Heart" on this very disc.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Battlefield of Love
Starting with the sounds of war, this one comes in with a screaming hard groove. It showcases Kravitz at his best, an artist who combines modern hard-edged sounds with a retro texture. The guitar solo on this piece feels a bit like Robin Trower.
If I Could Fall In Love
This one is very retro in texture, feeling a bit like late-era Beatles, but Kravitz always brings his own flavor to it. This one really feels like it would have been at home on his first album. The cut has a very emotional vocal presence and quite cool arrangement.
Yesterday is Gone (My Dear Kay)
Sort of an inspirational letter to someone close to Kravitz, this one starts off in a mellow acoustic ballad style before shifting to more of a bombastic arena rock chorus. This is a fairly unique and cool piece as it alternates between the mellower verse and harder rocking choruses while each get more and more complex.
Stillness of Heart
This is a bluesy rocker done in a typical Lenny Kravitz style. The chorus is quite strong and accessible.
Believe in Me
This track has a percussive style that feels like a cross between techno and R & B, and that merging makes up the central core of this emotional piece.
Pay to Play
This one rocks out just about as hard as anything Kravitz has ever done, creating a nice contrast to the last cut. It's a little raw and underdeveloped, though. It's not bad. It just doesn't hold up that well in comparison to what has come before.
A Million Miles Away
A love song, this is a mellow acoustic ballad, but nothing all that special. The echoing vocals are a little much - cut back on the reverb please. The chorus is harder edged, Beatlesish and elevates the piece.
God Save Us All
This is a bouncy, fairly bare-bones rocker. It has a cool guitar/talk box solo.
Dig In
A hard-edged retro-infused pop rocker, this is pretty typical Lenny Kravitz. It is the first single off the disc, and should be because the chorus is quite catchy.
You Were In My Heart
This starts off feeling like dramatic soundtrack music, then an electronic percussive groove takes the cut. It is another that seems to merge R & B with techno, but the screaming rock guitar that punctuates the piece and cool dramatic arrangement elevate it to near high-art levels. This is one of the strongest cuts on the disc and really shows what this man is capable of.
Bank Robber Man
Lyrically this is the true story of Kravitz being mistaken for a bank robber and taken into custody. Musically it is a punky, high-energy rocker that one could imagine The Ramones doing.
Let's Get High
This one is a pretty typical Kravitz rocker, but not especially significant. No, the title is not a drug reference, but actually an invitation to get high on "this feeling of love".
 
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