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Lenny Kravitz - Lenny Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 March 2002
ImageVirigin Records
performance 8
sound 8
released 2001

There is something very comfortable and reassuring about a Lenny Kravitz record. With his musical gene pool swimming with traces of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and even some Sly and the Family Stone, Lenny isn’t necessarily pushing the creative envelope with his retro-rocker sound. What he does have down is a very familiar blend of riff-based blues in pop format that is time-tested and good for the ears.
Lenny starts off with a bang on the track "Battlefield of Love," leading with an up-tempo and bluesy riff that has a catchy feel like "Are You Going To Go My Way." Kravitz’s voice gets a dynamic yet smooth sound thanks to what appears to be the use of a vintage Neumann mic much like those used by Hendrix, The Beatles and so many others. "Yesterday Is Gone" is the first ballad and it packs a predictable sing-song chorus and even better vocal presence because of the mostly acoustic accompaniment. Much like Aerosmith’s "Crazy" (and all of the other songs that they do that sound just like "Crazy" from the last few Aerosmith albums), this tune has massive pop crossover potential to a Gen-Y audience that is so young that they probably have no idea who artists like The Guess Who or Jimi Hendrix were.

Nearly all of the music and all of the words on Lenny are written by Kravitz himself, which is no small feat when you have been creating creatively and commercially successful records for more than a decade. Many of the tracks were also produced by Kravitz, thus the familiar sound. The most out-of-the-box track is the second one, a hip-hop flavored ballad entitled "Believe In Me." Thank god Lenny resisted the urge to have a rap superstar like JayZ come and do a verse, because the beat just begs for it, despite how trite celebrity rapper appearances are (for example, look at any recent Michael Jackson record).

"Pay To Play" keeps up the hip-hop feel but works its way to a well-managed crescendo before the chorus. Thankfully, we get to hear a nifty little guitar solo of the type that has seemingly fallen out of style with the screamer, slack-stringed Generation-Y bands.

"Dig In" is the feel-good single on the record and features the best Lenny chord progression of all of the songs on the record. Kravitz works comfortable chords together to meet at sweet choruses, layered with backup vocals (sounds like Lenny overdubbed) that are all very all believable. The lyrics are not really the point here – this is a tune that you can crank up to the limit of your car stereo and blast for a high-spirited springtime romp down Sunset Boulevard. Just make sure you’ve got your cool sunglasses on, because you can criticize Lenny Kravitz for sounding like a rocker of yesteryear, but you cannot accuse him of being un-cool.

Lenny is exactly what you’d expect from a Lenny Kravitz record written, produced and performed by the man. The songs are well done and the riffs are thankfully rockin'. The choruses are, much like Neil Diamond alluded to lyrically, capable of "making the young girls sing." Sonically, the record isn’t bad at all. I prefer Lenny’s 5 and Mama Said album for sonics but Lenny is no audio cop-out by any stretch of the imagination. Overall, Lenny is a solid effort from one of rock and roll’s most talented and consistent artists.

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