Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lenny Kravitz: Black And White America

I've been listening to some of the CDs that have been piled on my desktop for a while, and Lenny Kravitz's "Black And White America" rose to the top of the pile recently. I'm glad it did.

First off, I'm a fan. I love Lenny; have ever since "Mama Said". I admire his ability to synthesize hard rock and soul groove into an amalgam that very few others have ever succeeded in creating. Not everything he's done has been a slam-dunk (2004's "Baptism" is particularly off the mark), but he's never let a misfire keep him down.

Far as I'm concerned, "Black And White America" is a masterpiece. First up is the title track, which essentially says "Stop dreaming about the day when the races are friends - it's already here, if you'll open your eyes." I find this refreshing when compared to the message of much of today's R&B, which seems intent on widening the racial divide rather than healing it."Life Ain't Ever Been Better Than It Is Now" reinforces the positive vibes with a message of thankfulness overlaid by one of L.K.'s patented guitar-driven grooves. "Rock Star City Life" is another relentless track that stands with any of Lenny's best. A couple of things are formulaic; there's a dance track with Jay Z. rapping about bumping and grinding (yawn). "Sunflower" is a retro-Disco throwback, complete with cowbell and penny-whistle -- not quite as retro as Jamiroquai, but you get the idea.Overall though, the disc is a stone winner.

If I have one complaint about this album, it's that it's too long. Yes, I know - I'm complaining about getting too much for my money; slap me now. But at 66+ minutes, too much of a good thing can be too much -- especially when the slow songs ("Dream", "Push") are loaded at the end.

But no complaints: put it on, turn it up, and let the groove take you. That's what Lenny's always been about, and this is a fine addition to an amazing lifetime of albums. Shame it didn't get played on the radio (but that says more about the state of today's radio than about Lenny). Listen, lather, repeat.

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