Kravit’z abundance of success can’t save Strut

Kravit’z abundance of success can’t save Strut

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Zane Nyhus

 

It’s often said that success breeds success. Lenny Kravitz may just be the perfect example of this.  Since breaking into the music scene in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, Kravitz won four consecutive Grammys for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, released nine albums, and produced countless top 25 hits.

Although he has been acting since 1998, his career only recently took off with his roles in Precious and The Hunger Games. Now in the process of filming the final movie of The Hunger Games Trilogy, Kravitz released his tenth album Strut last Tuesday. “I wasn’t even planning on making an album. I was just working on the film. In the night, just all this music…,” Kravitz said in an interview with the Telegraph.

The album begins with the not-so-subtly named opening track “Sex”—a powerful tune with a funk-infused Kravitz guitar riff.

The next song is “The Chamber,” which is my favorite song from the album. Another tune that packs a punch, it has a groovy, disco-esque bass lick that is hard not to dance to.

The next track, “Dirty White Boots,” has some sex appeal, but that’s about it. “New York City” has another great guitar intro, but its lyrics fall short of the mark: “Broadway lights and taxi cabs/Everybody’s moving fast; Uptown, downtown, what’s your thing/She can take what she can bring.” The upbeat trumpet solo can’t even save this drawn-out song about Kravitz’s birth city.

After the ballad-gone-bad in “The Pleasure and the Pain,” we get the song “Strut.” All the elements of a great Lenny Kravitz jam are present: strong vocals, a delectable guitar solo and straightforward lyricism. Yet, listening to this song bored the life out of me.

The chorus was simply overworked and the guitar riff sounds eerily similar to his one in “Are You Gonna Go My Way” from 1991.

“Frankenstein” is the next track, and if you can look past the fact that the guitar riff sounds like something from a ‘70s porno, the song isn’t half bad. The trumpet and harmonica solos give the tune a gritty, Motown feel. From here, though, the album slows down considerably and, quite frankly, ends with a whimper.

“I’m A Believer” tries to be uplifting and didactic—“No time to dilly-dally/Life is moving much too fast”—but only comes out as very cheesy.

The next song, “Happy Birthday,” would be enough to ruin any person’s birthday if played at their party. Sorry Lenny, there’s no replacing The Beatles’ old classic any time soon.

The last song is “Ooo Baby Baby,” and is a remake of the hit single from Smokey Robinson’s band, The Miracles. Kravitz gives this song a rousing rendition, and does us a favor by ending this questionable album on a high.

As fruitful as his career has been, at age 50, the task of balancing acting and singing/songwriting/producing may have proved too much for Kravitz to handle.  The album “Strut” underwhelms, with dull, uninspired lyrics and an unbalanced song order that leaves the second half of the album fading away lifelessly.

 

2/5 stars