September 6, 2018 Lenny Kravitz – Raise Vibration (Album Review)
No matter which side of the aisle you are on, there is no denying the world is in a state chaos. War, political corruption, racial tensions, finger-pointing, and beyond, it is hard to tell which way is which anymore. Fortunately, in times of trouble, we can find refuge in music – whether it be searching for answers, looking for relief, or finding comfort. Take Lenny Kravitz, seeing his world rattled at 21 years of age when his parents divorced. Just a kid finding his way, in his times of personal strife, he turned to his music. Transforming a negative into a positive, Kravitz would launch a career in Rock-n-Roll with such an attitude, releasing his debut album, Let Love Rule, in 1989; Mama Said in 1991; and reaching new heights of commercial success with Are You Gonna Go My Way in 1993.
Now, nearly 30 years into his professional career, Kravitz has consistently stood by a message of peace, love, and understanding. Doing so in his own unique way, unifying a retro Rock-n-Roll style, Funk, Soul, Blues, and Pop, when looking at his latest album, Raise Vibration, it should come as no surprise that he is championing his positive message ones again.
His eleventh overall studio album, it will make its way to listener’s ears on Friday, September 7, 2018, on Roxie Records via BMG Rights Management. His first record since 2014’s Strut, Kravitz has spoken about wanting to do something a bit more funky next go-around, and he does not disappoint with Raise Vibration.
Consisting of 12 new tracks, much like his previous work, Kravitz took a very hands-on approach with Raise Vibration, producing the entire work. True to his laidback style, it would be unfair to label him as a peace-loving hippie without vision, because that is not the case; Kravitz is not living with his head in the clouds, he knows what’s up, and he is just as angry and fed-up as the next socially-conscience individual. The beauty of Kravitz and his songwriting is he chooses to harness his emotions into creating something positive. Afterall, haven’t we all been completely exhausted by hate and division? It is truly spinning out-of-control, but thankfully, Kravitz somehow compounds this whirlwind of emotion into an uplifting hour-plus of music.
Recorded by Kravitz, though he handles the majority of the instruments himself, he also worked with longtime Guitarist Craig Ross and Keyboardist/Orchestrator David Baron during the sessions of Raise Vibration. As mentioned, the sound is very on par with what Kravitz has done in the past – smooth, eclectic, and laced with groove. That said, the Funk element is pronounced throughout the album, especially on the single “Low,” which sounds like it could have been on Michael Jackson’s 1979 Off the Wall. Speaking of which, the King of Pop’s voice actually makes a posthumous appearance on the song. Just as funky, “Who Really Are the Monsters?” is a mix of guitar and an addictive dance beat. Beyond such are the words Kravitz speaks, raising questions for all of us to look in the mirror before we judge one another, and how the fighting will never stop if we do not stop attacking one another.
On the more Blues Rock end, title-track, “Raise Vibration,” sells the overall theme of the album that love is the most powerful thing we can offer, especially in times such as these. Then there are more personal moments, as heard on “Johnny Cash,” a song speaking of finding love and finding his way through loss. Touching, however, the most moving song of all on Raise Vibration is “Here to Love.” Laden with somber piano, Kravitz voice is left vulnerable over the top as he explicitly raises the point that we must think twice before we pass judgement on others and the unity of humanity as a whole is truly the answer.
If that was not enough to move you to tears, maybe you will be moved to dance by the funky bassline of the single “It’s Enough!.” Groovy as can be, once you are in the trance you will see Kravitz, again, is subtly expressing his stand against a broken system, injustice, murder, and greed. And if that is just too heavy to handle, have no fear, because the feel good “5 More Days ‘Til Summer” will no doubt take you away from it all. This, the jive sound of “The Majesty of Love,” soulful “Gold Dust,” and spiritual “Ride” will be a getaway to a distant island of warm sensations as well as chill vibes. Then, capping it all off nicely, the more R&B “I’ll Always Be Inside Your Soul,” by comparison to the rest of the tracks, is a short but sweet conclusion to a nearly flawless musical exploration.
Turning 54-years-old back in May, Lenny Kravitz’s retro rainbow of sounds has not lost its luster one bit over the years; he has grown as a musician, songwriter, and arranger. In fact, it would be difficult to find anything wrong with the production of Raise Vibration, it sounds that good! Most of all, the positivity is certainly a breath of fresh air when all we are is suffocated by negativity on a daily basis. That is why CrypticRock proudly gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.