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Music Review: Lenny Kravitz – It Is Time For A Love Revolution

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It Is Time For A Love Revolution is nostalgic rock and roll master Lenny Kravitz’s 8th studio album. It debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 in the first week of February, and though it didn’t last long there, this was Kravitz’s first Top 5 album since his Greatest Hits CD in 2000. And for good reason: though uneven in some places, this is the best batch of ‘60s and ‘70s throwback rock Kravitz has put on one album since the 1990s.

For starters, on the tambourine and handclap-happy "Love Revolution," the reverb on Kravitz’s vocals is so expansive, it’s almost as if he wants his message of rediscovering love to be heard over the hills and very far away. Speaking of Led Zeppelin, early single "Bring It On" does not hide from its '70s-era Zeppelin influences. In fact, with its methodical, midtempo drumming and “Blackdog”-like starts-and-stops, this rocker flaunts them.

It’s not just a Zep tribute, however. There's some Hendrix influences (the Iraq War-criticizing “Back In Vietnam”), Beatles-esque melodies ("A New Door," and the harder rockin’ "Good Morning") and James Brown influences on the album as well (via “Will You Marry Me”).

New single “Love Love Love” was released this summer on radio and video (MTV, VH1 and BETJ). This standout straight up hard rock tune is driven by simple, single notes and riffs that hardly let up, and Lenny lets out his inner Anthony Kiedis late into the song as well.

The swirly guitars and funky bass lines on “Dancin’ Til Dawn” is like late ‘70s Stones, and is sure to get the (female) bodies moving on the dance floor all night long, just like the singer imagines in-song. The radiant, psychedelic and Hendrix-hinting "This Moment Is All There Is," with its moderately paced groove, slightly flanged cymbals and spacey guitar solos is another highlight, as is “If You Want It,” with its self-empowering lyrics and Jimmy Page guitar heroics.

The highly emotional and personal "A Long And Sad Goodbye" is about Lenny's dad Sy Kravitz, who passed away on October 29, 2005, the night before his tour with Aerosmith began. The ghost of George Harrison can be felt throughout this modestly paced tune, which is capped off by a soulful guitar solo by longtime Lenny sideman Craig Ross.

Not every song is quite as memorable or perfectly mixed, however. The piano-led "I'll Be Waiting" may have hit potential but is a bit overproduced – the synthesized strings are a bit much here, just as they are on “Will You Marry Me”. But the former track has a soulful vibe and pop appeal to it that recalls "Again," the hit single from Kravitz's Greatest Hits collection, released in 2000. And on final track “I Want To Go Home” the verses are a bit too light on emotion and melody to match the serious anti-war/pro-troop mood of the song, which features lyrics like: “When I have to take a life, does that make peace”.

Taken as a whole, It Is Time For A Love Revolution is a collection of easy to digest pure rock and roll, with enough memorable melodies, vocal performances and guitar solos to warrant repeat listens throughout its fourteen tracks. If you were a fan of the early Lenny Kravitz, say the Mama Said era, you’ll dig this disc as well, as it is as close to that sound as you’re likely to get nowadays. But while that era worshipped Hendrix and the O’Jays, this disc takes inspiration that ranges from the Chili Peppers to the gods of rock and funk of the ‘60s and ‘70s, respectively (the latter two genres from which Kravitz has always drawn from when at his best).

Throughout this album, Kravitz and his ace guitarist Craig Ross are careful to emulate and not expressly imitate their heroes, which is always hard to do if you want to stand out as an artist. But in a mainstream market where imitating the latest trend in rock gets you to the Top 40, you can take comfort in knowing that rock stars like Lenny Kravitz still know the difference and can make anew the great rock sounds of an era long past by not copying, just referencing them in his quest to make great new music. .

Note: The deluxe version of the album has a bonus DVD that is well worth purchasing if you want many of Kravitz’s greatest hits on video (i.e. “Fly Away,” “Let Love Rule,” “Are You Gonna Go My Way”), as well as the artist’s explanations behind the meaning of some of the new tracks.

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About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.