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2013 release, the eighth album from one of the most respected, socially active artists in music. All People features his infectiously joyful hit single, 'I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)'. Franti's impressive career spans decades, albums and many achievements. The singer, poet and activist has amassed an extensive and rabid fanbase, and draws sell-out crowds by virtue of his electrifying live shows. All People follows 2010's The Sound Of Sunshine, which was the highest Billboard Top 200 Album Chart debut of Franti's career. The album was nominated for a 2010 NAACP Image Award and its title track held the #1 spot on Billboard's AAA Singles Chart for eight consecutive weeks. Michael Franti is recognized as a pioneering force in using music as a vehicle for social activism. In the mid-'80s, Franti formed Spearhead following his punk band The Beatnigs and the hip hop-inflected The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy.
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While Franti certainly has his fans, it wasn't until 2009's "Say Hey (I Love You)" that he gained wide attention. This album is very much a continuation of that type of sound (albeit with a little more pop and hip hop thrown in). Franti's current sound is very much an evolution and amalgamation of all of his previous work. It often has a reggae like groove, but now uses music from other genres--folk, rock, hip hop, pop, jazz and funk all make appearances to combine into a layered yet generally fast paced and upbeat sound.
Lead single "All People" blasts off with a party of different instruments and electric sounds. While lyrically repetitive, if it doesn't put a smile on your face--then you're probably the type of person who also kicks puppies in your spare time. However, "11:59" quickly pulls things back into a more serious yet sweet tone: "One Love/One Blood/ One Heart/ One soul/One drum and only one rhythm/ One tribe and all of us singing.... If I'm gonna die tonight, I want heaven--with You." It's probably one of my favorites off the album, and lyrically is very representative of the album as a whole. "On and On" is more narrative like, but again it focuses on Franti's relationship with someone--just asking for more time, "...as simple as that."
Unfortunately, I don't think there is any song on here with real staying power. I like them, and I'll have fun listening to them in these last few moments of summer, but this is not memorable music. Here is where Franti's lack of depth and repetitive lyrics really hurts. While I hope people appreciate Franti's message and that it reaches people his old stuff would never have reached, this isn't an album that I'll remember next year. However, at the end of the day, it's a well made--slick pop album with a positive message and that the kids I babysit frequently would really enjoy.
***The Deluxe additions contains the added tracks: "Gangsta Girl", "Life is Better with You (Acoustic)", "I Don't Wanna Go", "Do It for the Love", and "Let It Go." I personally would only pick up the acoustic version of "LISBWY".
Yell Fire, Songs from the Front Porch, and even All Rebel Rockers are much richer and more complex.
I LOVE this album. There are a few songs that I find myself playing over and over. 11:59 and Long Road Home are two of my favorites. Over all a feel good album with a message of love and peace.
Franti has continued in that direction with All People -- it feels like the shallowest & popiest (is that a word?) record he has made yet. Maybe it should be called "Pandering to All People." Don't get me wrong: There are still some good songs here. "Earth from Outer Space," "11:59," & "Show Me a Sign" stand out as bright spots. The single "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)" is a cute & catchy love song. It's not a BAD album -- it just feels more shallow & mediocre than what I expect from a Michael Franti/Spearhead release. Too much feelgood fluff, not enough depth.
First for the negative-at just 40 minutes it's too short and I wanted more! Also, I do miss the hard social commentary that helped define Michael so well over the years especially in Yell Fire which is still my favorite album. There is still some of that here but merely sprinkled in where before it was the main body of his work. I did read somewhere where he said he wanted to bring people more joy and happiness rather than always pointing out the problems with the world, so hard to fault him with this approach. Also, its obvious through listening to this album Michael is in a different place. He sounds like someone who is in love and in love with life and it comes through in this album. He sounds more reflective and lyrical. It's hard to find anything negative to say about this approach. I do miss some of the more organic music as a lot of this almost sounds tecno in parts. Overall I will still take Michael's music over 99% of what other artists are offering!