A collage of sounds and styles, of hip-hop grooves and rock guitar, classic melody and 21st century ambience, "5"
is Lenny Kravitz
at his most eclectic -- and his best. Of the record's range, Lenny says, "Making this album, I felt like a kid with a box of crayons. And I used all the colors." An aesthetic chameleon ever since his 1989 debut "Let Love Rule," Kravitz has never been comfortable with borders, boxes, limitations. And with "5," a fascinating mix of old and new, of vintage Lenny and Lenny-right-now, he's again reinventing himself. "The album took eight months because I had to learn a whole new style of recording," Kravitz says. Lenny produced himself -- and enlisted the legendary Terry Manning as engineer (Al Green, ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin, Staple Singers)
At the beginning of his career Lenny pioneered a return to basic recording; this time Kravitz embraced hi-tech, incorporating his own samples and loops into his trademark tube-amp, down 'n' dirty recording approach. "No tape this time," Lenny says, "and 'digital' used to be a dirty word for me. But by working instrument by instrument, building up the sound, I was able to construct the record like a puzzle. I was listening to a lot of New York hip-hop. I like that technique - the sparseness, the groove, the rhythm." As always, the multi-instrumentalist plunged into marathon studio sessions, sixteen-hour days in New York and the Bahamas crafting sounds. The result? Lenny's fiercest, fullest music -- the vocals crisp and immediate, the instrumentation surprising (everything from wah-wah guitar to mellotron and mini-moog to "green Heineken bottles" as percussion). Craig Ross is again on hand, turning in hot guitar. Lenny's horn players Michael Hunter and Harold Todd are given space to soar. Female back-up vocals (an unusual twist for Kravitz) add elegance and heart. And Lenny's own work - playing all the instruments - is more fluid than ever.