Michael Franti is certainly an inspiration to many, with a back catalogue of music that seems from the early days of hip hop to his contribution with Spearhead has influenced countless people. His conscious rhetoric and his living examples of how to live has given Franti a freedom many artists don't have. Certainly during his journey from The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy to Spearhead, his lyrics have seemingly moved from a potential feeling of confrontation to an example of love, togetherness and unity. Franti's latest album 'The Sound Of Sunshine' was originally started in Jamaica and moved to Bali, all recorded and produced in a mobile studio, with the opportunity for new songs to be performed before release. 'The Sound Of Sunshine' is certainly a contemporary example of the independence of modern recording and freedom of expression.
As you'd expect recording an album on the road, enjoying the beauty and beach life of Bali and Jamaica you'd be a pretty happy crew! Indeed 'The Sound Of Sunshine' is all about good vibrations, sunshine and bass grooves. There are a few exposures to hip hop delivery but mainly it's sticking to song melody and plenty of funk, world sounds and surf rock mentality. The subtle punk influence that continues in Spearhead and certainly on this album reminds me of Sublime and some of the vocal delivery a bit like Lenny Kravitz, however it is still clearly the unique sound of Michael Franti. There are also some great female vocal features on this album from Lady Saw and Cherine Anderson.
'The Sounds Of Sunshine' is a very positive, happy and upbeat album. It's has all the sunshine flavours you'd expect from this expressive and conscious free band. There is a definite alternative element in the music that could be placed in the indie category but still remains funky within Spearhead roots combined with unity consciousness at the centre. The focus on melody and song writing could appeal to a different audience but for most Spearhead fans this will be another nice slice in the collection, reserved for the beach. Happy days!