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Taken from Monster & Critics Music (July 20, 2006)

Album Review: Michael Franti & Spearhead - 'Yell Fire!'

by Mike McGonigal

Michael FrantiPartially recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, with Chris Blackwell, 'Yell Fire!' is part of a thematic trilogy that includes the film and book 'I Know I`m Not Alone,' which document Franti`s recent visits to Iraq, Israel and Palestine.

That`s a lot of ground for anyone to cover, but his ambitions pay off on this strapping, if sprawling, collection. Franti wastes no time getting to the point: opener "Time to Go Home" brandishes enough slogans to populate an entire anti-war rally. Despite its framing device, "Yell Fire!" leaves time for some geographically appropriate reggae ("Hello Bonjour," featuring Sly & Robbie), danceables ("Hey Now Now") and unapologetically optimistic ballads ("One Step Closer to You"). And though Franti puts those fierce politics first, he also neatly distills the diverse styles he`s visited throughout an ever-impressive career.

Taken from M & C Music: music database

Summary of Michael Franti and Spearhead: Yell Fire!

One thing you know you'll get from Franti and Spearhead is a certain kind of crystal clarity--on the production, musicianship, and, of course, in the righteous political message. Released two years after Franti traveled by himself to war-ravaged Baghdad, Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, each of these songs deals with the human cost of war poignantly and pointedly. The lyrics may seem simplistic when removed from the songs--"Those who start wars never fight them/And those who fight wars never like them" and "The F15 is a homicide bomber"--but very few artists have the honesty and balls that Franti does. Bless him for that. Spearhead might lose credibility with some by tying Peter Tosh's chant to "legalize it" to their call for revolution, but those folks are not in the target demographic, anyway. Those who are will thoroughly dig this. From the jam band accents of "Time to Go Home" to the reggae of "Light Up Ya Lighter" to the U2-ish ballad "I Know I'm Not Alone," it's easily Franti's best album yet. --Mike McGonigal


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