Home Read Classic Album Review: Lenny Kravitz | Baptism

Classic Album Review: Lenny Kravitz | Baptism

The rocker's seventh album finds him at a personal and professional crossroads.


This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


A decade ago, he wanted to know if we were gonna go his way. Now, it seems like Lenny Kravitz isn’t so sure which direction he’s headed.

Baptism, the retro-rock soulman’s seventh studio set, seems to find the singer-guitarist at something of a personal and professional crossroads. Forget about the feather boa-clad, stylishly ’fro-ed Kravitz of a few years back; here, his garb is understated, his gaze pensive and his hair a rat’s nest borrowed from an old Prince head shot.

That isn’t all he borrows from the Purple One. Backing away slightly from the Marshall-stack rock-band funk of his chart-topping heyday, Kravitz returns to the idiosyncratic, Prince-inspired one-man-band approach that served him so well on his early albums, not to mention his critically lauded 2001 album Lenny. All of it is in keeping with the more soulful, personal and reflective headspace Kravitz inhabits on these 13 songs.

Oh sure, cuts like the fuzzy blues-rock of Where Are We Runnin’?, the lusty Lady and the groovy Minister Of Rock ’n’ Roll find him strutting and cocky as ever, claiming on the latter that he “can save your soul … make you freak and make you lose control.” But don’t be fooled; it’s easy to see Lenny is just going through the motions — especially when a song like Flash catches him admitting, “I’m gonna put on a mask / I’ve got to be outrageous for my fans.”

What’s behind the mask, and really on his mind, comes out on surprising, self-explanatory tracks like the poignant rocker I Don’t Want to Be A Star, the spiritual love-quest title track, the piano power ballad What Did I Do With My Life? and the equally sombre The Other Side, on which Kravitz openly yearns to trade his fame and fortune for the simple life. “I’m just a man on the run,” he claims. “It’s a bore.” Thankfully, there’s no way you can say the same of Baptism. It’s be interesting to see which way Lenny decides to go from here.