Album Reviews

Michael Franti & Spearhead – All People (Capitol Records)




Release Date:    

Michael Franti All PeopleOakland native Michael Franti and his ever-evolving band, Spearhead, may hail from the West Coast, but his is a heart that roams the Earth. Though he’s spent time on a variety of labels and slowly made inroads into the jukebox of the masses in bands like Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes Of  Hiphoprisy, it’s his own back-up label, Boo Boo Wax, that keeps him astride the style-conscious road known as the major label highway.

In the mid-’90’s, he solidified the ever-changing world of “Alternative Music”  by releasing memorable tracks such as “People In The Middle” and “What I Got.” He and Spearhead continued to take advantage of his talent and soaking up the eclectic sounds of punk, hip hop, and reggae. These influences are deeply buried in Spearhead’s sound and their universal appeal. 

Whether on his own or with his band, (The man, heard live, is a true hurricane of musical power.) Franti has continued to steadily grow over his eight albums. He’s the type of musical character who will continue to grow and expand from album to album. All People manages to craftily stir all of his various styles and vocal subject matter in a perfect mélange’.

All People kicks off with a gorgeous ballad shared with  Michael’s sister Sara in his traditional style; a smooth ballad which veritably explodes like a musical rocket. The biggest difference between this release and its’ predecessors is that All People contains just a few more love songs than his usual discs, which only shows off another side of the man and his talents.

“11:59” finds Michael proudly proclaiming his spiritual beliefs and how he’ll choose the righteous path even if it comes down to that last second. Armageddon in a pair of speakers.

“I’m Alive…” brings things up, with a whirling whistle and joyous backing vocals, while “Long Ride Home” is a great road trip tune, with unforgettable lines like “…passed a bus of hippies/Drinkin’ 40’s/And rollin’ up some sticky ickies…” “Earth From Outer Space” is a possible glimpse of this great blue marble from the endless vacuum of darkness we see from this end- and the good, bad, and ugly visible with the right lenses. “Closer To You,” “Show Me A Sign,” and “On And On” follow that trend- love seen from differences and hearts. All People wraps up with the appropriate “Say Goodbye.” There’s simply not a bad track on this album, and it makes one yearn for Spearhead to embark upon another live show or craft a new disc.

A timeless, powerful musical force, Franti’s message to his fans and fresh listeners is simple: music and your collective souls always have room for one more slice of positivity and love. Buy this album and work your way back – you’ll never regret it.

Tom Hallett

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