“Lenny Kravitz is still recording?” seems to be the most common response to the “American Woman” singer’s new record, Raise Vibration. Indeed, he is, but his musical style has definitely evolved over time. Kravitz sounds nothing like he did 15 years ago, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Up to date with the 2018 trend of logo-less clothing, Kravitz’s album doesn’t display his name or the name of the album. Instead, it is a relaxing and natural shot of Kravitz, ankles in the ocean, dreads swinging through the air, pastel sky behind him. The cover truly foreshadows the overall aesthetic of the album—calm, relaxed, slow and steady—completely different from the mood of his previous releases.
Raise Vibration opens up with “We Can Get It All Together” to establish the record’s steady, feel-good summer energy. Albeit repetitive, the song is effortless and flowing, and its cyclical rhythm is easy to get lost in.
“We Can Get It All Together” transitions into “Low,” which is easily the catchiest song on the album. It’s upbeat, but it’s still smooth. The song has a disco sound to it, making it perfect for dancing. (In fact, Kravitz was probably dancing to this song when they took the cover shot, because it’s the only song on the record upbeat enough for that.)
Other songs on the record are intrinsic, but in a weird way. On “Who Really Are the Monsters?,” Kravitz sings about how it’s “not about the money, and not about the fame.” The song is harsh and hectic sounding, but a decent guitar solo and interesting drum rhythm make up for the fact that the rest of the song makes no sense.
“Raise Vibration,” the album’s namesake, is another nonsensical yet feel good song. The lyrics are preachy, but the song is simple (and long—the intro alone is nearly two minutes long). “Love will lead us and complete us,” Kravitz sings, in an attempt to unify that only music can accomplish. “Raise Vibration” is another lengthy song, coming in at five minutes. It really doesn’t need to be that long—the extended introduction and drawn-out guitar solo make a decent song feel like an eternity.
Long, repetitive songs are a trend on the album. “Johnny Cash,” an otherwise solid song, is drawn out for so long that it’s difficult to finish. It’s an unexpected love song amidst politically-tinged rock ones, and for that it stands out dramatically.
“Here to Love” is another slow, uplifting track on the record. It’s inspiring—about doing right—and features some of the album’s strongest lyrics. Kravitz preaches positivity throughout the song, singing “We’re not here to judge / Just here to love.”
Kravitz jumps from the positivity of “Here to Love” to an impassioned political statement in “It’s Enough.” He points fingers every which way, saying “The whole wide world is corrupt / It’s enough, it’s enough.”
The album becomes more engaging toward the end. On “5 More Days ‘Til Summer,” a happy, light, upbeat tune is mixed with a catchy baseline and nonsensical lyrics for a fun, pop feel. A similar quality is featured on “The Majesty of Love”—a fast, hectic beat makes it a busy, bass-heavy track.
“Gold Dust” is the quintessence of Raise Vibration. Its long intro, solid piano, and sonic effects that accentuate the interesting lyrics give it a gospel sound and a good rhythm. The song is simple, but long (again).
Raise Vibration is, in many ways, a solid album. It has a common theme of unifying against hate and negativity, which is greatly needed in this day and age. But from a musical standpoint, the album lacks cohesion on an auditory level. The songs are far too long, and they repeat the same message on a loop. They’re good quality, and many contain interesting and impactful lyrics, but each song could use a good minute or two chopped off. It would keep the listener engaged, instead of waiting for the song to finally end.