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Lenny Kravitz - Baptism


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, it’s 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 and pure.

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’ feel.

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 from downbeat.

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.

 

Track listing:
1. Minister of Rock 'n' Roll
2. I Don't Want To Be a Star
3. Lady
4. Calling All Angels
5. California
6. Sistamamalover
7. Where Are We Runnin'?
8. Baptized
9. Flash
10. What Did I Do With My Life?
11. Storm
12. The Other Side
13. Destiny

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