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Dove Shore

Lenny Kravitz’s new album shows a funkier — and happier — side of the musician than fans have seen in years.

Lenny Kravitz figures there are a few things his fans have probably grown to expect from his music: great guitar riffs, elaborate vocal harmonies and sharp melodic hooks. “But, really, my stuff’s all about the positive vibes,” says the 47-year-old rocker, speaking several days after opening a string of early-summer shows for U2. “I definitely think that’s what I’m most known for.”
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Mathieu Bitton

Kravitz serves up plenty of positivity on Black and White America, his ninth studio disc and the first one, he says, “without a single song derived from sadness.” Usually, his records complement happy tunes with cuts that find redemption in some kind of difficult experience. “But I was at such a good place when I made this record — a better place than I’ve been in years — that there weren’t any [of the latter],” he admits with a laugh. “Not one. There’s always one!”

The musician’s funkiest effort since 1993’s "Are You Gonna Go My Way," the new disc examines the thrill of romance in “Superlove” and the power of lust in “Boongie Drop,” which features a cameo by Jay-Z. But though its good vibes flow freely — credit recording sessions in the Bahamas, where Kravitz lived during the production process — the disc isn’t without its moments of gravity. The orchestral-soul title track, for instance, addresses race relations in modern culture — something about which the biracial singer has a unique perspective.

“I started writing about Martin Luther King Jr., then I thought about my parents and what it must have been like for them walking down the street in 1963,” says Kravitz, whose late parents were TV producer Sy Kravitz and The Jeffersons star Roxie Roker. “Obviously, with the whole racial thing, I’m both [black and white], so I understand each side.”
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Kravitz will spend the fall touring Europe in support of the new album, but American fans can soon see him in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games trilogy. “What I like about acting is that it’s the exact opposite of what I do musically,” says Kravitz, who also appeared in 2009’s Precious. “On my records, it’s my vision. But film is a director’s medium. I’m there to bring out his vision.”

How’s that for a positive outlook?