Moving forward a couple years from the psychedelic fixations of his debut, Mama Said finds Lenny Kravitz in the early '70s, trying to graft Curtis Mayfield and Jimi Hendrix influences to his Prince and Lennon obsessions. This time around, he synthesizes his influences better; it's essentially a seamless record, with all of its classic rock homages so carefully produced that it sounds as if it could have been released in 1972. Kravitz's songcraft has gotten better as well, with the swirling Philly soul of "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" and the rampaging Sly Stone-meets-Hendrix "Always on the Run" standing out as instantly addictive singles. Still, some of the joy that informed Let Love Rule has worn off, largely because it's more polished and studied than its predecessor. That, however, doesn't prevent Mama Said from being another thoroughly enjoyable guilty pleasure -- its sweet soul and fuzzy hard rock are slyly seductive. Ironically for such an inviting record, Mama Said is Kravitz's divorce album, yet it never quite conveys any true pain or emotion, since he puts sound over substance. Essentially, the lyrics are afterthoughts, but with a record as immaculately produced and sonically pleasurable as Mama Said, it doesn't really matter that it's talking loud and saying nothing, because it sounds good while it's talking.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine