Album Review: Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way: Deluxe Edition
Lenny has been a busy man since the original release of Are You Gonna Go My Way back in 1993. Not only because he released several more albums of varying success, he’s dabbled in fashion, produced music for other artists, been heavily involved in charity work and had roles in Hollywood movies such as The Hunger Games.
I think therefore it’s safe to assume Lenny likes to try a little bit of everything. With the release of the album Are You Gonna Go My Way: Deluxe Edition, we are once again reminded that Mr Kravitz takes the same approach to his music.
The record is a plethora of different styles and musical influences ranging from rock, pop and soul, to R&B, reggae and funk. The good thing about the album is where lesser artists may not be able to jump from one style to another, Lenny Kravitz does this with ease. One minute he’s channeling the ghost of John Lennon on Beatles influenced tracks such as Just Be A Woman and My Love, and the next his silky vocals are on R&B track Heaven Help with its stripped back drums and obvious Prince influences.
Because Lenny always wears his heart on his sleeve, he get’s away with this. He makes no attempt to cover up his musical influences, instead thriving in them. This is what makes it such a good album; his obvious talent (often playing multiple instruments on the tracks) and love of music come through in the songs. I doubt he’s ever been described as this but Lenny is kind of a musical sponge, taking in all the best bits of music, absorbing them and throwing out his own stylised pieces of brilliance.
There are of course stand out tracks on the album, Are You Gonna Go My Way being one of them. Being an anthem of the early 90’s, a rollicking fast-paced rock masterpiece that shows Lenny’s eye for a chart-topping tune and mastery at a catchy riff. Believe still sounds relevant today, an uplifting rock ballad with impressive vocals and violin filled chorus very pleasant to the ear. Black Girl is another standout track and shows just how easy Kravitz can slip from genre to genre.
But has the album stood the test of time? The answer is both yes and no. As a whole the album has a mostly live and raw sound, as opposed to the highly studio produced albums of today. Also Lenny isn’t best known for his insightful and clever lyrics, often falling into rock n roll cliché’s, and maybe a few too many love songs. This however means that to some people the nostalgia will be a welcome return, whereas to others the production and lyrical content may leave them feeling a little flat.
The extra material is worth a listen on this deluxe edition if you are a hardcore Lenny fan. Extra B-sides featured on disc one such as the brilliant Brother provide evidence there were more tracks that could have been included on the album first time round, whereas disc two provides acoustic versions of album tracks, demos and a BBC interview with the man himself.
Are You Gonna Go My Way: Deluxe Edition gives those that had forgotten a reminder of how good Lenny Kravitz could be. Lenny is a sensitive soul who loves music till the end, any type, any form. This album still manages to show why his fame skyrocketed after its original release. Good honest music.