In the 18 years that have transpired since Lenny Kravitz first entered the public consciousness, much has happened in the world of music. Yet, through it all, Lenny Kravitz, has persevered, flourishing as one of the great rock musicians of our time. He proves exactly why with his eighth studio album, It Is Time For A Love Revolution, a thunderous and elegant rock ´n roll call-to-arms.
These accolades are not hyperbole. All of Kravitz´s albums have been certified gold or better, with three of them certified multi-platinum. He has scored multiple number 1 singles on the Billboard Top Singles charts, and has won four GRAMMY awards (setting a record for most wins in the "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" category, from 1999 – 2002), while being nominated for several more. In fact, when it comes to awards, Kravitz has earned an unparalleled collection of them throughout his career, across a variety of artistic institutions, including the American Music Awards (2002, Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist), the MTV Video Music Awards (1993, Best Male Video), Radio Music Awards (2001, Artist of the Year), VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards (1998, Most Fashionable Male), and the Billboard Awards. Kravitz is also widely regarded as a creative vanguard, both in the innovative music videos that have spanned his career and in his early recognition of music´s role in our lives outside traditional avenues like albums and radio.
The root of all his success, though, is the music. Kravitz´s sound has always carried the echoes of past eras – classic rock, old-school soul, gritty funk and confectionary ´60s pop – yet it always boasts an urgency and craftsmanship reflective of modern times. It Is Time For A Love Revolution, is a bold, contemporary rock album, and its largess underscores the idea that, over the course of his nearly two-decades-long career, perhaps the most remarkable of Kravitz´s achievements is how he´s managed to maintain the immeasurable consistency of being a quality singer, songwriter and performer.
"I´m a person who is always trying to experience new things and constantly change my perspective," he says. "I really try to keep things alive, to be around different people and different influences. I´ll go live someplace I´ve never been, where I don´t know anybody, and I´ll gain the experience of it. I guess that reflects on the music I make."
In many ways, It Is Time For A Love Revolution, is a new start for Kravitz. With his last album, Baptism (which contained the hit singles, “Where Are We Runnin’,” and "Lady,"), Kravitz completed a 15-year career cycle that saw him evolve from the humble beginnings of a struggling musician. "I had seen and done just about everything I could have ever done," he explains. "Especially after (Baptism), musically, I felt like I had been able to do a lot of what I´d always dreamt I could do, and so after that record and tour, it really felt like the end of something."
And then a funny thing happened when he started to write songs for the new album. "I just felt free. I can´t explain it, it felt like I was starting from scratch and the energy and excitement that comes from that just took over."
That freedom is the fire inside It Is Time For A Love Revolution, which sonically – and more importantly, spiritually – is as vibrant as Kravitz´s debut album, Let Love Rule. "It´s true, I hadn´t felt that free since before I was in the business," he says. "For Let Love Rule, there was no agenda, no business people, no pressure to ´deliver´ a certain vision of me. And that´s how I felt recording this album. It feels like the beginning of a new chapter for me."
It Is Time For A Love Revolution was written and recorded over the course of the last year and it once again finds Kravitz playing most of the instruments himself. What will be most striking to listeners is the boldness of the sound. Heavy drums, tight, hip-shaking grooves, frenetic guitars and Kravitz´s unmistakable croon mix to create big, raucous rock ´n roll jams.
Thematically, as its album title would indicate, Kravitz sings many songs of love and emotional and spiritual revolution. He sings songs of optimism calling on people to open up and let love in their hearts. As he explains, "I know people who are incredibly rich and have everything but are some of the most miserable people in the world. And you can have two dollars in the bank and be the happiest person on the planet. there´s nothing I could buy that could make me happy as long as I have love and God in my heart.
That much his music aspires to inspire is a product of how he was raised, he says. "It might be naïve but it´s how I´ve always been. I wasn´t raised in a cynical environment, but one that was always positive and productive. You watch the news and things in the world are not getting better," he says. "To me, it´s time for people to really question this. It´s time to get radical with it and combat the evil in this world with love."
Kravitz’s personal belief in love and peace finds its way on this album in a variety of ways, including songs that draw parallels between the current US war in Iraq and the Vietnam era. "I´ve never been one to shy away from saying what I feel," he explains. Indeed, Kravitz has a history with protest songs. His first-ever officially released song, in 1989, was for Spirit of the Forest, a compilation benefiting the fight for Brazilian rainforests. Earlier this year, he contributed a cover of John Lennon´s "Cold Turkey" to the benefit album, Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign To Save Darfur. In 2003 as a form of protesting war as a solution for Iraq, Lenny released the download-only track, “We Want Peace.” “The song caused controversy because it featured Kazem Al Sahir, Iraq’s leading pop star at the time, but it still managed to reach number 1 on the world download charts. In July 2007, he headlined Live Earth Brazil, drawing a crowd of 750,000 people, as part of the concerts organized by former Vice President Al Gore in the fight against global warming.
But the anthemic, classic rock tunes of It Is Time For A Love Revolution are matched by just as intense, but quieter and more personal songs. Kravitz uses this album as an opportunity to address his father, Sy Kravitz, who passed away in 2005, laying naked the up-and-down relationship they had with each other. "We never saw eye-to-eye and I moved out when I was 15," he elaborates. “I had issues with him as a father figure. I was a mama´s boy – and his infidelities were things I took personally. As we both got older, we just moved farther and farther apart from understanding each other and so it was like a long and sad goodbye to this father/son relationship that used to exist. We made peace, though, so in that sense, it´s not that sad for me anymore."
Addressing that particular subject on It Is Time For A Love Revolution was its own form of catharsis for Kravitz, and it only adds to the album´s depth and range – the same characteristics that marked his foray into music on Let Love Rule and the same ones that has made him a vital musician for 18 years. "I love this record and the feel of the record," he says. "I felt like a kid playing in my bedroom, and that´s the most important thing you can tap into, that feeling of being free."