Taken from Examiner (September 26, 2010)
Michael Franti "The Sound of Sunshine" review
by Chris Griffy
The songs on Michael Franti's newest album The Sound of Sunshine were born of hardship. In the summer of 2009, Franti almost died from a ruptured appendix and underwent emergency surgery. The following days spent in the hospital werec hard for Franti, who longed for the outdoors. He says "...every day in the hospital I'd go to my window and look outside and if the sun is shining I'd say, 'Yes! It's going to be a great day.' On days when it wasn't shining, I'd have to find sunshine somewhere else so I'd pick up my guitar and write songs. And the songs I wrote were songs of bliss and gratitude and songs to get through difficult times."
The songs he wrote during this time became the foundation for The Sound of Sunshine, released this week. The result is a very different album than Franti's previous two, All Rebel Rockers and Yell Fire! Practically gone are the heavy political songs, replaced by upbeat anthems to happier times. Says Franti, "the songs I wrote were songs of bliss and gratitude and songs to get through difficult times. I really wanted to make a record that would be that for other people. Right now is a difficult time in our country and on the planet and I wanted to make a record for when people don't think there's any sun in their lives right now, they could put this record on and find it."
The first two songs on The Sound of Sunshine, which are also the album's first two singles, have been released for months. They effectively set the tone for what's to come. "The Sound of Sunshine" is an uptempo Carribean anthem that should see a lot of airplay. "Shake It", which features Jamaican singer Lady Saw, is a bonafide booty shaker. Gone are lyrics like All Rebel Rockers "They talk of the future like a criminal plans, with corporate robberies in far off lands", replaced by "Here I am, waiting for the storm to pass me by, that's the sound of sunshine coming down." It would seem that a threat to his life has brought out the softer side of the man who first came to mainstream prominence with "The Obama Song."
Fortunately, the change works for Franti. The Sound of Sunshine is a solid album of top-down beach tunes. While not as reactionary brilliant as All Rebel Rockers, The Sound of Sunshine shows Franti's continued growth as a singer and as a songwriter. For those wanting to put on a record and get release from the troubles of their lives, they could do much worse than The Sound of Sunshine. The title track alone is worth the price of the album.
Check out his interview with Michael Franti prior to his appearance at Bonnaroo 2010, which includes a discussion of The Sound of Sunshine