Hi Lenny! It’s been a while. It’s actually been 16 years since I bought a Lenny Kravitz album, 1995’s Circus.
I remember consciously severing my connection with Lenny around that point. It seemed that he was stuck in a cycle of releasing the same mellow tunes, drenched in layers of vocal harmonies. That’s not to say that I don’t revisit those first four Kravitz albums from time to time, but to all intents and purposes he had nothing new to say.
Until today. Stumbling across an interview with Lenny on Spinner, I discover that he’s got a new album (Black And White America) and the lead single is Stand. This is the much-talked-about funk album that’s been waiting on release for quite some time.
What’s wonderful about Stand is that all those Kravitz hallmarks are front and center: the rich vocal harmonies and Lenny’s instantly recognizable phrasing. Oh, and the fact that he’s playing about three different roles in the video – he’s well known for playing most of the instruments on his albums himself!
The track itself is brilliantly retro, although the pop-infused chorus and sugary vocals maybe detract from the more serious message of the song. Which I’m only aware of because of the interview linked to above – Kravitz has made an album of social commentary on racism and hatred, and Stand ties directly into those themes.
Somewhat cheesier is the Stand video, which follows that retro gameshow/performance cliche in the style of Outkast’s Hey Ya or Black Eyed Peas’ Don’t Phunk With My Heart. It’s fun to watch Kravitz playing multiple roles in the video, but ultimately we’ve seen this video (or variations of it) many times before.