Michael Franti & Spearhead “All People” Review: Imperfect, Eclectic Fun

(Photo Credit: vibewest.net)

Michael Franti’s new album with Spearhead often drags in slow tempos, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.

Michael Franti has been recording music for a few decades now, and with an advance in age comes a decline in the social activism that the multifaceted performer is famous for. “All People” is, instead, a more pop and dance inspired album than much of his previous work. What makes the album interesting, however, is that some songs (on the album’s deluxe version) still show hints of his activist and reggae roots. The result is an album full of too many downtempo tracks, saved by an eclecticism and a enthusiastic spirit.

“All People” is best experienced in the album’s lengthy deluxe version. The normal version starts off with three energetic reggae-dance numbers before the tempo slows to a halt and pretty much stays there. But the deluxe version throws other tracks in the middle, instead of tagging them at the end. Some of these other songs, like “Gangsta Girl” and “I Don’t Wanna Go,” are among the album’s fastest and most eclectic, and work as great dance-hall numbers that spice up the album. Why they are left off of the original album in favor of a few too many slower numbers is beyond me.

There is no one thing to focus on during the album. This is to say, it is impressive as a whole. The eclecticism of the music, even during the subdued moments, complements the vocals. The album lyrically blends activism with summer fun, and Franti’s youthful spirit helps the slower moments stay at least partially afloat. It might be a little disappointing for fans of Franti’s upbeat reggae-pop, but the album is still a fun listen.

Grade: B-

-By Andrew McNally

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