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Lenny Kravitz | Raise Vibration

Lenny puts it back in his pants and lets brotherly love rule again.

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Lenny Kravitz swings both ways. Which is to say: Half the time he wants to fix the world. And the rest of time he just wants to smash. Last time around, on 2014’s Strut, it was all about getting down ’n’ dirty. Not surprisingly, after all that nasty nookie, Lenny is ready to put it back in his pants and let brotherly love rule again. Returning to the political arena of 2011’s Black & White America and tossing in a hefty dose of spirituality for good measure, Kravitz sets out to raise some consciousness on his fittingly titled 11th studio creation Raise Vibration. Look no further than self-explanatory titles like We Can Get It Together, Who Really Are the Monsters? (spoiler alert: It’s us!), Here to Love and It’s Enough! to know what’s on his mind these days — though it’s anybody’s guess what he was thinking when he wrote the song Johnny Cash (“Just hold me like Johnny Cash / When I lost my mother / Whisper in my ear / Just like June Carter“). Um, OK. Here’s something that makes more sense: His more laid-back musical approach. Dialing down the hard-driving urban funk-rock and loosening the compositional reins, Kravitz gives himself plenty of room to stretch out and dig into deeper grooves with open-ended arrangements. Just as wisely, he continues his one-man band approach and sticks to his retro-minded ways on these dozen cuts, channeling familiar touchstones like The Jacksons and Prince — along with one outlier that could be a Steve Miller outtake. As usual with Kravitz, he tends to overdo it a bit — there are a few too many songs that go on a tad too long and contain a little too much hazy sunshine and hippie-dippie sentiment. Still, his commitment and craftsmanship always seal the deal. And if you don’t care for it, you can rest assured that a few years from now, the pendulum will swing back the other way and he’ll be singing about things that will make your mother blush.