Album Review: The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti & Spearhead
Fairly Good, Based on 7 Critics
Entertainment Weekly - 79 Based on rating B+
This lefty Bay Area rapper had a surprise 2009 hit with the light-hearted, reggae-tinged ”Say Hey (I Love You).” The follow-up album sets evocations of hard-won happiness to similarly strummy, globally grooved ? hip-hop. On The Sound of Sunshine, ”I’ll Be Waiting” reaches for U2 grandeur, but Michael Franti is best as an amiable neo-Marley busker, asking for change, love, and maybe one more shot at crossover gold. B+ Download These:The title track, a spiritual wake-up call The Sound of Sunshine at amazon.comDance-pop redemption song Hey Hey Hey at amazon.com See all of this week’s reviews .
Franti finds his lost shaker of salt Michael Franti has achieved a secret bonus level of hippie not available to most folks. He’s barefoot whenever not on a plane, organizes a massive annual festival of music and yoga, shot an anti-war documentary in the Middle East, is from the Bay Area, gets you a water when you interview him and produces, both alone and with Spearhead, soaringly crunchy love-is-all reggae-rock. A few minutes with a Franti record and the Indigo Girls start looking like Coulter and Michelle Bachmann.
With a chorus that’s bubbly, a hook that’s infectious, and a title that’s “Hey Hey Hey,” the key track on Michael Franti’s 2010 effort is wide open for ridicule, but on the cut, the man who once seemed like Gil Scott-Heron for the techno generation makes an excellent argument for happiness. “Hey, hey, hey/No matter how life is today/There’s just one thing that I got to say/I won’t let another moment slip away” it goes, and while that’s coming from a man who just had his first hit -- and in the U. S.
Never trust a hippie. They’ll sell you out more quickly than you can possibly imagine. In one of his classic Generation X neologisms, Douglas Coupland writes that a contemporary member of this subculture can be described as a Bleeding Ponytail: “an elderly sold out baby boomer who pines for hippie or pre-sellout days”. The values fostered by the baby boomers have bled into a postmodern era perfused with the empty signs of hypercapitalist mass conformity (or whatever).
Makes good on the promise of its undeniably appetising title. Nick Levine 2011 Michael Franti is a gift to the Wikipedia-editing pedant. Born to an Irish-German-French mother and part African-American, part Native American father, before being adopted at birth by a Finnish American couple based in Oakland, California, he's spent his 45 years forging a career as perhaps the planet's only poet-cum-peace campaigner-cum-philosopher who concurrently fronts a six-piece hip-hop-reggae fusion outfit while extolling the virtues of a vegan lifestyle and strolling through life, wherever possible, without wearing any shoes.
One of the few pop artists with a “health & fitness” page on his website, Michael Franti has always been driven by a missionary zeal that goes beyond the music. He is an outspoken peace activist–he took it upon himself to fly to Baghdad to witness the devastation of the Iraq occupation first-hand–and his reputation often precedes his creative work. The bulk of this 2010 release was written while Franti was in the hospital recuperating from a burst appendix, and not surprisingly, a theme of gratitude pervades the album.
Michael Franti the political activist is dead. The Sound of Sunshine, the bulk of which the Bay Area singer and MC wrote while recovering from a burst appendix, follows in the manner of last summer's top of the pops, "Say Hey (I Love You)." Expressing the simplest emotions through a sprightly mix of reggae and rock, Franti works the laid-back buzz of Jack Johnson, dosing it with just enough Lenny Kravitz to make it palatable. Facing his maker, he addresses the joys of life in a way that barely skirts cliché yet is bolstered by insistent beats aimed at the body so that the mind must follow.