Music Review: SOULROCKER

Spirituality & Health Magazine
reviewed by John M. Grohol, PsyD


Michael Franti & Spearhead

Fantasy Records

This ninth studio album from Michael Franti & Spearhead—soulrocker—continues their great tradition of very sing-along-able tunes ripe with joyful energy and social consciousness. Treat yourself to a live concert and you’ll see how electric this music becomes in a group setting: lots of waving arms and smiling faces.

New for this Spearhead album is a pulsing electronic Eurodance sound that Franti actually encountered a long time ago on one of the first records he ever owned, by experimental German band Kraftwerk.

While Franti has come a long way since fronting his first bands The Beatnigs and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, he continues to be an artist offering vulnerability, sensitivity, and a longing for social justice. “Once a Day” was inspired by his son’s diagnosis with a rare kidney disease. And “My Lord” came out of Franti’s exploration of his own adoption as a baby by a Finnish American family from a birth mother who is Irish, German, and Belgian and birth father who is African American and Native American. “When I was born I was alone / Spent the rest of my life finding my way home,” Franti sings.

On “Good to Be Alive Today” the lyrical lens is widened as Franti and his band tackle some difficult material including Ebola, ISIS, drone warfare, child soldiers, political corruption, and police violence. “People used to feel safer when they would hear a siren / Like help is on its way but now they only think of violence.”

A soulrocker is defined in the lyrics booklet as “One who lives from the heart, with compassion for all, and possesses a tenacious enthusiasm for music, life, and the planet.” It’s also a good description of Michael Franti. Enjoy!

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