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Taken from Pipe Dream (July 07, 2003)

Michael Franti and Spearhead

Everyone Deserves Music

by Aaron Riccio

Michael Franti For all the people who claim to have messages in their lyrics and force themselves into certain stereotypical images to maintain publicity, here is a fresh taste of honesty and realism. In the joint collaboration of singer Michael Franti and his talented troupe of versatile musicians Spearhead, the music industry has found a clean approach to political soundtracks and heavy meaning laden lyrics. The newest offering from Franti and Spearhead, Everyone Deserves Music is a slice of good old fashioned wholesome apple pie, simmering out the windowsill a wide range of styles and talents for a diverse public.

Drawing heavily on rock and soul (although not being limited or constrained by it) the musical renderings of EDM cycle through hip-hop renditions and reggae beats to Sister Act-like gospel remixes. While this may sound odd, the originality of it pays off - while there are some odd chorus voices chiming in to accentuate important points, the sheer jubilation with which the whole CD is approached works to raise it to a higher level, even letting it get away with some of these experimental background sounds.

What really benefits the CD is the broad musical background - the lyrics, while powerful, are almost too uplifting. By being rooted in a variety of sound stylings, the lyrics mutate and stay fresh, even though the messages sometimes seem painfully obvious after multiple listens. Thankfully, hip-hop collaborations with Blackalicious on "We Don't Stop," "Bush war one and bush war two/they got a war for me they got a war for you" and the remix of Bomb The World (Armageddon Version) with Sly and Robbie "you can bomb the world to pieces/but you can't bomb the world to peace" keep the content moving, especially since some of the slower tracks seem like they're meant more for a group of children in school to sing along with.

To be fair, though, Franti's words are very powerful themselves and motivate the audiences towards self-improvement as much as the soundtrack urges listeners to start dancing. Songs like "Never Too Late" and "What I Be" are uplifting (even with the former's somewhat somber theme) and preach good habits through repetition and example.

The CD, while mildly repetitious on a few tracks, is on the whole infectious with a glorious sense of goodwill and energy. Michael Franti is like a more focused Wyclef Jean, staying true to his politically and humanistically oreinted music, giving a sense of closure and resolution; and this, ladies and gentlemen is the answer for music-lovers in a world where sex and violence seem to be the only things that sell.

all contents ? 2003 Pipe Dream


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