If you’ve found yourself muttering, “Whatever happened to Lenny Kravitz?” lately, well, hello, person who’s muttered the same thing as I. After he finished up his pants-splitting world tour three years ago, he realized he was in a foreign land: The Land Of Uncertainty. “I really wasn’t sure where I was going musically,” he says in a Rolling Stone interview. “After doing this for 30 years, I wasn’t feeling it. I’d never felt that confused about what to do. And it was kind of a scary place. You don’t know when it’s going to come.”
His entourage attempted to apply jumper cables to his creative muse by proffering collaborations with songwriters and producers or note, but Kravitz wasn’t there for it. “I’ve never really worked that way, following trends or doing what people think you should do,” he says. “I’ve always made music that came naturally out of me. What am I going to do, make a trap record? Not that I don’t like that stuff, but I’ve got to be me.”
Retiring to his Bahamas home, Kravitz weighed the options, without setting foot in his home studio.“I know it’s there, but I’m not going in,” he reminisces. And then, sitting bolt upright in bed at 4am one day, a song came into his head, at which point he scampered into the studio to record a demo version. Over the next few nights, the scenario repeated itself — and his eleventh studio album began to appear from the formless void. “I realized, ‘This is it,’” he says. “This is what I’d been waiting for. And once I started that process, the floodgates opened and it all started coming out me. I dreamt the whole record.”
Raise Vibration is now due for release in September. As per usual, Kravitz plays just about everything, although his longtime collaborator Craig Ross is also on board, along with a couple of string ‘n horn players, and it’s nothing if not eclectic. The first track on which Kravitz worked, Low, is a funked-up spectacle which he refers to as his “Quincy Jones school”, loaded up with strings and horns. The title track leans into stripped down power trio territory, and Johnny Cash — which was inspired by an encounter with the late Man In Black — is “psychedelic funk meets country”, as Kravitz says. “It’s about a dream I had where Johnny Cash is involved, and it’s also about something that happened in my life years ago,” Kravitz says. “When you hear it it, you’ll understand. When I was writing the lyrics, I didn’t understand what I was writing. But when I finished I said, ‘Oh, that’s what that’s about.’ It’s a very deep song.”
Kravitz has embarked on a world tour to support the album ahead of its release, and he’ll be joining Sting, John Mayer, Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow, David Byrne, Keb’ Mo’, Counting Crows, The Record Company, and many others at the second annual Bourbon And Beyond Festival this September in Louisville Kentucky.