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Record Rating: ***

Lenny Kravitz - Baptism Just about everyone's ripping off old Lenny Kravitz tunes these days, including Kravitz himself. After Kravitz's debut proved to be a surprise hit in the late 1980s, a few critics were quick to assume that Kravitz's retro look and sound were simply a gimmick to get the public's attention. But come the 1990s, it had become integrated into the mainstream - both musically and fashion-wise, proving that Kravitz was a bit of a trendsetter.

On his seventh studio album Baptism - the man once again finds himself immersed in personal conflicts, most notably the need for spiritual connection in the midst of the hollow rock n roll lifestyle that surrounds him. While the hard-edged opener, Minister Of Rock N Roll momentarily reconciles his bipolarity, the CD in its entirety reveals a somewhat divided vision. The John Lennon adage of I Dont Want to Be a Star tries to convince us of its title, but somebody should tell Lenny that growling, I drank with Dylan/Boy, did we act a foolI got high with Jagger/It was really cool, - suggests exactly the opposite.

The multi-talented performer displays his ongoing struggles like his relationship woes, identity crises and worldly temptation as visibly as the tattoos that cover his left arm. The themes of self-evaluation and the search for a renewed connection with God, which comprise roughly half of the 13 tracks on the album seems to prove that hes no mere rock n roll caricature but a flawed man thoughtfully pressing his way toward some meaningful answers. The rest shows that age is obviously creeping up on Kravitz as he ponders his own mortality on tracks like Destiny, and What Did I Do With My Life. The dry, upfront production style of his debut Let Love Rule is partly in evidence, but the material here with the exception of a few piano based ballads is not as melodically lush or compelling.

I was a big fan before he became a commercial success with album number four, and this new one still makes doesnt make me want to convert back to his music. His earlier works used to be aural treats now its just the same old thing. Still its worth a listen, maybe for old times sake.

Read our other reviews:

Rock Reunion - Various Artists       Beautiful Sunday - Various Artists      Joe Satriani- Is There Love In Space?       D12 - D12 World


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