Black and White America

From the title track, which references the insults endured by his interracial parents in the Sixties, to its colorblind blend of rock, soul and pop, Lenny Kravitz makes race the central theme of his ninth album. Despite big ideas, he deftly keeps the mood shifting. With help from Jay-Z on the dub-inflected "Boongie Drop," he celebrates the women of Eleuthera, the Bahamian island where he recorded some of the LP, and he prays for transcendence on the ballad "The Faith of a Child." Kravitz is most gripping at his most personal, but he doesn’t sustain that intensity. Still, each of these 16 songs succeeds on its own terms, which is a vision for America beyond the black and white divide.

Listen to "Come and Get It":

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From The Archives Issue 1138: September 1, 2011