Must Have CD's
by Donn Swaby
Lenny Kravitz: The Love Revolution
With the debut of his eighth studio release (not including Greatest Hits), It’s a Love Revolution, all inclusive genre sampler Lenny Kravitz once again proves that he is one of the few mainstream artists around today who’s music can simultaneously evoke a tender nostalgia for the simpler, funkier, blues based, soul driven, hook laden, groove rock music of yesteryear while still reminding you that it is indeed him about to rock you out, and no one else.
True, just about every song reminds me of something I heard somewhere at sometime, but not in a bad way. For instance, Lenny wastes no time on this CD, starting it off with the blistering rock anthem,s It’s Time, and the equally enjoyable, Zeppelinesque song Bring It On, which both remind me of, well, Lenny Kravitz and his blistering, funktified rock anthem, Are You Gonna Go My Way?
Kravitz also shows us that he has something important to say about several life issues while in the process revealing his compassion, his optimism, and his incredibly open, romantic, forgiving heart. On the song, Love, Love, Love, Kravitz repudiates all that is modern living while championing love as his single most valuable possession and dares us to do the same: “Don’t need no television, don’t need no movie stars… don’t need no politicians, don’t need no stocks and bonds…don’t need no Paris fashion, don’t need no shiny golden chains. There ain’t nothing’ you can give me. I’m already there. I love.” On the song If You Want It, (whose opening chords eerily sound like those from the song Corner of the Sky from the musical Pippin) Kravitz, displays religious sentiment, suggesting to “drop your chains and take up your cross and let Jesus make your way” as an ultimate way to change and freedom. His romanticism is strong as ever with songs like the ballad I’ll Be Waiting, the awesomely funky Will You Marry Me, and the sweetly melancholy I Love the Rain. Kravitz sincerely deals with pain of parental abandonment in A Long, Sad Goodbye : “Papa, I am in pain, ‘cause on the day that you left you said I’d do the same…,” a song whose wailing, soul baring guitar solo almost rivals David Gilmour’s in the Pink Floyd classic Comfortably Numb. On the psychedelic trip The Moment Is All There Is, arguably the best song on this CD, Kravitz urges us to seize the day “Life is here, can’t you taste it, the future no one can see, so step aside and let it be…don’t put off what you can do today, take advantage while you are here...“ When he sings the songs Back in Vietnam and I Want to Go Home, you not only get that the present day Iraq War analogy, but you feel as if you are actually back in the 60’s at the college demonstrations, burning draft cards and protest marches.
Finally, who better than Lenny Kravitz to reminds us, as did the Beatles, that love is truly all we need, and succeed in making the sentiment anything but cheesy?
Megan Jacobs: Prosperity
With the release of her debut CD, Prosperity, singer/songwriter Megan Jacobs, who also plays keys, reveals herself to be an old soul. A self described cross between Janis Joplin, Inara George, and Juliana Sheffield, the sultry, dusky voiced L.A. native has written and performed a collection of songs that are filled with introspection and moments of self realization. For example, in the songs Time to Find and Love is a Memory, she not only explores the theme of pain that comes from losing or leaving a lover, but also the contradictions that come with it: “…I know it takes two to spark a flame, but I’d do it all again…”
Backed by a competent band playing sparse, laid back melodies, Jacobs, whose voice reminds me of sweet molasses slowly rolling down the side of a warm, glass jar, displays a wisdom gained from years of living and learning in the bohemian/metropolitan neighborhoods of Los Angeles. She understands that sometimes, when one’s heart is open to all the beauty of human experience, one transcends the need to use words altogether, as in the song No Need: “There was no need for words to be spoken, your heart was bleeding and mine was awoken.” In her never ending journey of self discovery, she loves herself enough to be patient in her quest, as in the song New Orleans: “Gotta get my soul back, but it takes time…” In the song Patience, when I hear her sing: “… gonna take all my illusions, place upon the shelf all these conclusions ingrained…and praise the day I can say it’s true. I can see my reflection in you…” I get the feeling that the “you” she is referring to is her true self, stripped of all ego.
Another major theme in Jacobs’ songs is her unbridled optimism, even in the face of her own self doubt, as in the song All I Ask: “When the snow is falling, the sun keeps shining.” In Still Alive, she acknowledges that although some may see her as “jaded” and “sheltered by the blues,” she is still all too human: “…I’ve got fingers to bleed and hands that knead the dough.” Despite all the pain of loss, she holds on to the promise of life’s lessons, as in the song Love Is My Memory: “…I’m beginning to see how precious this life could be, it’s finally hitting me.” This is a woman who knows how complex, complicated, and emotional messy life can be, and yet still approaches it with hope, patience, and self-forgiveness, reminding herself that it is all of those things which together, ultimately make life beautiful and worth living.