Review: Jack Foley
LENNY Kravitz is one of the coolest customers on the rock 'n'
roll circuit, thanks to a string of high-profile girlfriends and
the ability to deliver at least one classic tune per album.
His latest long-player, Baptism, which marks his seventh
studio effort, continues the trend, and is a blistering, take-notice
effort from start to finish, which maintains Kravitz's position
as the king of cool.
The release marks his first new collection of original material
since 2001's Lenny and is described by the artist, himself,
as a moment of artistic rebirth.
"Baptism feels as pure as the beginning, its like
making my first record all over again," he is quoted as saying.
And there is certainly a freshness about it that, while certainly
containing plenty of nods to an illustrious past, also feels contemporary
The album kicks off in typically strutting fashion, with the
singer-guitarist declaring himself to be the Minister of Rock
'n' Roll - no doubt due to the fact that so many women seem
to worship him!
But rather than resting on its laurels, the album takes in a
number of different styles, from the soul sound he fuses so effortlessly
with rock, to a hip-hop fusion with Jay-Z, and even some psychedelic
moments to boot.
Kravitz wrote, produced, arranged and performed all the tracks
on the album, but although he plays the majority of the instruments,
including bass and drums, the album has an irrepressible sense
of spontaneity and urgency and an undeniable live
With Baptism, Kravitz has strived to create an album
that is soulful as ever, but one which resonates with anthemic
hooks and melodies.
And the result is totally addictive, with stand-out tracks including
the heartfelt, The Other Side, featuring David Sanborn
on saxophone and plenty of pleas to his father, and the excellent
Jay-Z effort, Storm, which contains a memorable beat, some
effortlessly simple guitar hooks and a nice blend of Kravitz vocals
and Jay-Z rap.
Bearing in mind that Kravitz describes the record as an artistic
rebirth, it is little wonder to find himself exploring his own
place in the scheme of things, with tracks such as Destiny
('my life is all about this song'), and I Don't Want To Be
A Star ('just want my Chevy and an old guitar') finding the
singer at his most open and honest.
There is a great deal of soul-searching, it seems, but not to
the detriment of the listeners' enjoyment, for the music is far
Elsewhere, the Sixties' throwback, California, could easily
find its way into the Fountains of Wayne school of songwriting,
while the catchy former single, Where Are We Runnin'?,
is an excellent jamming session, which recaptures Kravitz at his
most openly rock 'n' roll.
Indeed, there isn't really a bad track on the album, which makes
it damn near essential purchase for the rock 'n' roll contingent.
It could (and probably should) become Kravitz's most successful
long-player to date.
1. Minister of Rock 'n' Roll
2. I Don't Want To Be a Star
4. Calling All Angels
7. Where Are We Runnin'?
10. What Did I Do With My Life?
12. The Other Side