Picks and Pans Review: Mama Said
When Kravitz unveiled his intriguing neohippie style on 1989's Let Love Rule, little did anyone suspect that it heralded a minimovement of such talented bands as Maggie's Dream and Jellyfish, whose music flashes back to the '60s.
Kravitz is still the guru, and his hearteningly consistent and attractive second release proves that his splashy tie-dyed approach to pop is viable long term. "Fields of Joy," like "I Built This Garden" on Kravitz's first album, is a soft-focus celebration of a groovy kind of love affair: "I hold your hand inside my hand/ Across the land through fields of joy/ The sound of music that we hear/ The blend of colors in the air/ All cities, mountains disappear from view/ All truth and beauty near to me and you." What clinches the song is the shift in moods from gentle to raucous rock. Lenny gives other tracks, such as "Stand By My Woman," understated arrangements reminiscent of late-era John Lennon.
Kravitz's voice can carry a song. What makes him distinctive, though, is his exotic blend of soul and psychedelia. His black roots show most on the Curtis Mayfield-influenced "What Goes Around Comes Around" and "Always on the Run," a sort of Sly & the Family Stone revisited, with Slash of Guns N' Roses on guitar.
Mama Said is marked by modest, home-studio production values, most evident in the album's muffled drum sounds. But that ingenuous quality fits. After all, it's simplicity and sincerity that keep Lenny's stone soul excavation of Woodstock from sounding affected. (Virgin)
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