With ten albums to his credit in twenty-nine years, Lenny Kravitz has been more consistent than prolific. But with nothing set to tape since 2014’s Strut, he admitted in recent interviews to being in a creative rut.
So Raise Vibration has a bit of the hallelujah about it—he’s back with a vengeance, and he’s definitively tapped into that old musical divinity. Fittingly, the album’s opening track is “We Can Get it All Together,” a riff-a-riffic ’70s blues rocker that won’t really surprise anyone musically (think Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up”). But the song is startling in its raw, confessional vulnerability: “Deliver me from loneliness / Deliver me from selfishness / Deliver me from brokenness,” he pleads with unguarded honesty.
The wait mostly paid off, as Kravitz manages a couple of genuine stylistic surprises here. “Who Really Are the Monsters?” takes a sexed-up Prince groove and lays it under some wickedly distorted guitars—surely the closest he’s come to going industrial funk. It’s proof that Kravitz is still good for a little reinvention. “Gold Dust” is languid and majestic, both shoegaze-y and heavy, with chill-inducing gospel inspiration. Kravitz does stumble a bit, however, with the overly earnest, lumbering ballad “Johnny Cash.”
None of this, of course, has anything to do with what’s currently clogging up the charts—but then, when did Lenny ever neatly fit the zeitgeist? With so much clichéd R&B and listless indie-folk music in the air, it’s just good to have someone around who knows how to rock the fuck out. Welcome back, Leonard—you’ve been missed. Really.