Sunday, 15 June 2014

MICHAEL FRANTI & SPEARHEAD - ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Franti & Spearhead - All People (EMI/Capitol Records) 
Michael Franti & Spearhead - Album Review

Well this is a bit of surprise and a half. US reggae and all-round good time guy Michael Franti seems to have done a club-pop album and it's actually pretty good. I mean, it's not artistically cutting edge or anything but it's a lot of fine. Proceedings get underway with the album title track 'All People (feat. Gina Rene)' which bounces along like the Black Eyed Peas used to before they went, well, shit. '11.59' is a reggae tinged love song, 'I'm Alive' has the ear-worm whistling melody that a big advertising campaign should jump all over and 'Long Ride Home' is the kind of melody that Jason Derulo would probably bang out but with more interesting and poignant lyrics. And this seems to be Franti's talent - writing big pop-dance tunes with lyrics that are worth listening to which is perfect for any party so that the dancers can dance and the non-dancers can listen to the well crafted words.

As 'Life Is Better With You' rolls along with all its Jack Johnson-ness, I must concede that this will all be a little bit perky and positive for some people but I think considering the amount of ill-thought out, trite, insincere pop there is around at the moment this does shine out as something of a beacon. 'Earth From Outer Space (feat. K'naan) is a slightly darker, Tinie Tempah-esque number, 'Closer To You' has an enjoyably persistent beat and bass line and 'Show Me A Sign' is a One Direction melody with new-age tendencies - some people's idea of hell, for sure, but at least it's trying to make the world a happier place. As the album approaches it's end, the wistful 'On And On' looks back at a simpler, more youthful time for the singer and 'Wherever You Are' is a gentle, lullaby of a song that is surely intended to be an inspiration to the man's children. Final track 'Say Goodbye' is one of those songs that should feature at the end of a heart warming family comedy as the cast all end up dancing at some improbable event (see Rat Race and Smash Mouth for a prime example of what I'm on about). This is an album that could act as a bridger from mindless pop to pop with a brain so I recommend this for any under 10s you know. Or for you if you're not too much of a music snob to be unable to enjoy some good quality pop music.

More information: https://www.michaelfranti.com/home

Live Dates:

19th June - Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara
20th June - The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles
21st June - The Greek Theatre, Berkeley
22nd June - Open Air Theatre, San Diego
24th June - Britt Pavilion, Medford
26th June - PNE Amphiteater, Vancouver
27th June - Marymoor Park, Redmond
28th June - Les Schwab Amphiteater, Bend
29th June - Edgefield, Troutdale
1st July - Big Sky Brewery, Missoula
2nd July - Sun Valley Center, Ketchum
3rd July - USANA Amphiteater, Salt Lake City
5th July - The Downs at Santa Fe, Santa Fe
6th July - Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison
8th July - Crossroads, Kansas City
10th July - FirstMerit Bank Pavilion, Chicago
12th July - Simon Estes Amphitheater, Des Moines
13th July - Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn at White River State Park, Indianapolis
15th July - Echo Beach, Toronto
17th July - Stone Pony Summer Stage, Asbury Park
18th July - Bank of America Pavilion, Boston
19th July - Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford
21st July - JBL Live at Pier 97, New York
22nd July - Skyline Stage at the Mann Center, Philadelphia
24th July - Floyd Fest, Floyd
25th July - Battleship Park, Wilmington
26th July - Ntelos Pavilion, Portsmouth
27th July - Uptown Amphitheater at the Music Factory, Charlotte
29th July - Sunset Cove Amphitheater, Boca Raton
30th July - St Augustine Amphitheater, St. Augustine
1st August - Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta

2nd August - The Woods at Fontanel, Nashville

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