I do not love nostalgia. Even when that nostalgia is for music I like, I have a hard time liking or sometimes even appreciating music that was made in awe of and devotion to another time. Sure, it might sound better than the original because it was recorded better or mixed better or mastered better (depending on the band), but it still sounds like it’s from another era. I like art that isn’t obsessed with the past.
Lenny Kravitz is an extremely talented musician: he has a strong sense of melody, he is a good perhaps even great singer, he is a decent guitar player and he has a good sense of how to create good arrangements for his songs. Also, his lyrics are adequate enough as to not draw attention to themselves. But he is stuck in the past.
This record is exactly what you would think a record would sound like if it was made in 1993 but wished it was 1970 (though the touches of Prince make it seem more modern than that). Everything about the actual recording is better: it sounds good, the instruments are clear and well-recorded, the arrangements are tasteful. But these songs and arrangements are basically a cry for help from the past in the era of alternative rock. It’s as if he’s saying: why can’t things be like the good old days, when everything sounded better, and we worshiped the blues and soul instead of punk.
The result is very competent nostalgia, but still pure nostalgia.
- “Are You Gonna Go My Way” (Kravitz, Craig Ross) – 3:31
- “Believe” (Kravitz, Henry Hirsch) – 4:50
- “Come on and Love Me” (Kravitz) – 3:52
- “Heaven Help” (Gerry DeVeaux, Terry Britten) – 3:10
- “Just Be a Woman” (Kravitz) – 3:50
- “Is There Any Love in Your Heart” (Kravitz, Ross) – 3:39
- “Black Girl” (Kravitz) – 3:42
- “My Love” (Kravitz, Ross) – 3:50
- “Sugar” (Kravitz) – 4:00
- “Sister” (Kravitz) – 7:02
- “Eleutheria” (Kravitz) – 4:48
- Lenny Kravitz – vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, Mellotron, bass, drums, chimes
- Craig Ross – acoustic and electric guitars
- Henry Hirsch – piano, Wurlitzer organ, synthesizer, bass
- Tony Breit – bass
- Dave Domanich – drums on track 4, “Heaven Help”
- Michael Hunter – French horn, flugelhorn
- Robert Lawrence – violins
- Liuh-Wen Ting – viola
- Michael “Ibo” Cooper – keyboards on track 11, “Eleutheria”