Tuesday, October 19, 2010

REVIEW: Michael Franti & Spearhead's The Sound of Sunshine

Michael Franti & Spearhead

Perhaps alternative music’s most renowned foster child, Michael Franti brings nothing but warm tidings on his seventh studio album The Sound of Sunshine. The eleven-song LP has a little bit of everything—hip-Hop, reggae, folky ballads and other arrangements that sound like they come straight out of a tye dye covered kombi. The feel good platitudes reflect the outlook of a Caucasian barefoot dread-head who has taken life’s lemons and made sweet lemonade.

Backed by a mostly acoustic foundation, the songs on The Sound of Sunshine beam with an enviable optimism. “No matter how life is today…I wouldn’t let another moment slip away,” he sings on “Hey Hey Hey” as we wonder how someone, who isn’t a resident of Sesame Street, be that content. The good cheer continues on “Anytime You Need Me,” where friendly whistles back up Franti’s rosy chorus about the benefits of having a good buddy.

Franti shines best, however, when other singers support him, as in the case on the highly energetic “Love Don’t Wait.” It’s a simple case of the more tonal variety, the better. When Franti takes responsibility for this diversity on his own—like his contrived Reggae accent on “Shake It”—the album loses authenticity.

All in all, The Sound of Sunshine packs all the joy of a Partridge Family b-side minus the cornball factor. We’ve always been able to see a sunny day, but thanks to Franti, we can now also hear it.

-Sidik Fofana

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