CD Cover Lenny Kravitz

Review by Dorothy Parvaz

This new Lenny Kravitz disc is a bit of a let down, really.

Although a palatable hybrid of funk, hip-hop and whatever else Kravitz could get his hands on, his latest effort, 5, is unmistakably missing the soul and verve of his past releases.

Kravitz's work has always been derivative of 60s psychedelic rock and 70s funk, but there was always something more to his work. It was the way he fused the different genres he borrowed so heavily from that made his last few albums work, but 5's flatness hints at Kravitz's own (possible) lack of enthusiasm and inspiration. Everything he's done on this album he's done before and done better. 5 just doesn't have what it takes to top the down and out bass in "Mr. Cabdriver," the hook-heavy "Are You Gonna Go My Way" or the good-to-the-last-note sweetness of "Always On the Run."

If you've heard the first single off of 5 ("If You Can't Say No"), you've already heard the best song on the album. You'll probably want to check out "Black Velveteen," though, just for lyrics like "Titanium skin/ Just take her for a spin/ Black Velveteen/ Simple and clean/ Oh what a bad machine/... Nice piece of kit/ Electronic clit/ Just sit down for a fit/... Black Velveteen don't give a damn she'll do dishes/Black Velveteen knows all the night spots in France." Really, until the part about doing the dishes, I thought he was talking about a car. If nothing else, the song piques your curiosity about who Kravitz has been hanging out with.

The sad truth is that all that's grown since Kravitz's last album are his dreadlocks. So skip this one. It won't leave you feeling satisfied. Listen to Kravitz's old stuff instead; or, better yet, bust out your James Brown and Curtis Mayfield discs.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on July 29, 1998

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