Taken from The National (Aug 13, 2013)
Michael Franti & Spearhead: All People
by Saeed Saeed
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Michael Franti is in an enviable position. The San Francisco roots artist commands a fiercely dedicated global fan base fond of his blend of anti-establishment lyrics and sun-kissed melodies. It is precisely for this reason that diehard fans may run in horror from All People. Franti’s eighth album lives up to its title of being his most accessible recording yet.
Chart success is the goal here, with Franti embracing electro-pop and dance music. The earworm melody, complete with repetitive chorus, makes I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) sound more similar to the Black Eyed Peas than, say, Bob Marley. The electronic influences are also heard in 11:59. Franti competently raps about the world’s ills before delivering another life-affirming chorus that is his stock-in-trade.
Earth from Outer Space would please some of the faithful with its dub overtones, but the throbbing follow-up Closer to You quickly brings it back to dance-pop territory. The diatribes of former albums may have been reduced to bumper sticker laments, but it would truly take a grinch to despise the optimism All People holds.