Actually, I've seen Franti live before, and it's a fun show. I didn't know any of the music ahead of time and still had a really good time. I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like recorded.
I'm just browsing sites on this to prep, and there's a lot of phrases like "thought-provoking" and "fiery protest songs" being tossed around. It was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica, which makes it already a little exciting. There's also a song breakdown from Franti himself on his website, which I'll scan through once I've made my initial impressions.
So, hey, let's do this - on to the track-by-track!
"Rude Boys Back In Town" starts things. Let me preface by saying that I basically lived with a Reggae band all summer, so I'm hoping this it good. Overall, this is a good kick-off to the CD. We're heading into the party that he's got going, and we're ready to roll. The guys tell their stories from the road to everyone, but there's probably no place like home.
"A Little Bit of Riddim" with Cherine Anderson kicks things up next, and this is where I can hear the appeal. There's rock music and dance involved here, and there's the message of good times and good people. It's about the old days - the days when you could party on the streets without the worry we have to deal with today - like the fun times I heard about over Christmas from West Orange and my mom's family and friends. "A little bit of rhythm makes the world go round." Here's a cool video that was done for it:
"Hey World - Remote Control Version." Hm. There are two 'versions' of this one the album, so this should be interesting. This has got a more pointant feel to it, like almost a little harder feel. There's... I think an electric guitar? It's giving strength to it all. It's a shout out to the world that there's a fight out there to be had, so put down the remote and go live and stand up for what you really want. This is the first call to "all rebel rockers" I've heard, and it's got an awesome ring to it.
"All I Want Is You" is quite clearly a love song. It's pretty simple - desire. The whole albums got a love theme, which is awesome, but this is passionate love and.. hm. Just really a great track. Groovy. There actually was a video released of this, but I'm going to go ahead and show you a live version to get you in the spirit for the rest of the album, which is much different:
"Say Hey (I Love You)" with Cherine Anderson is obviously the big hit that came from this. Let's check out the video - the only one from this album on the official Vevo, by the way:
"I Got Love For You" keeps bringing the love theme, but sounds like someone wishing the best to someone and asking them not to forget them. It's got a great beat, and keeps up the dancing I seem to remember from his audiences. This song is actually about, according to his site, his son heading out on his own. It's his send off to him.
The next song, "Soundsystem," has the lowest tones we've heard so hard, with more rhythm guitar bringing this total rock sound to it all. It's a dance track and a really good one at that. The whole thing's about Franti's experience with different music and the combinations that were available to him growing up. Really a cool ode.
I think I actually like "Hey World (Don't Give Up Version)" better than the first one. It's slowed down, and I think that actually makes the message more powerful. It's got a broken central character to relate to, and I think that person needs what we all need - faith and hope from others. Just... take a minute and listen.
The next one has a much more mellow feel compared to everything else, "High Low." It's a pretty sweet feel, but it doesn't do much for me. It's almost a little too relaxed with the voices so much that I get distracted by almost anything else and forget it's on. It's actually about the highs and lows he felt meeting his birth mother for the first time at 22. Interesting.
"Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong" may be my favorite musically and message-wise. It's all about peace and respect for each other. It's also lost the reggae sound almost completely in favor of a straight up guitar sound. This is just the right combination of everything a modern hippie kind of needs.
Maybe I spoke too soon on that "favorite" title. A John Hiatt song, "Have A Little Faith" slows things down so very simply and beautifully. This is one of the best endings to an album I've ever heard. It's all about holding on, and exactly what I think at least 80% of this world needs to hear at the end of the day as they close their eyes.
- "A Little Bit of Riddim" - Spotify, YouTube
- "All I Want Is You" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Say Hey (I Love You)" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Hey World (Don't Give Up Version)" - Spotify, YouTube
- "The Future" - Spotify, YouTube <-- sorry, I couldn't find a regular recording
- "Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong" - Spotify, YouTube
- "Have A Little Faith" - Spotify, YouTube
I'm going to go ahead and say I liked this one. :)
Seriously though, this was a fine piece of work. There was a genuinely good balance of every kind of song, a general theme to go with the whole CD, and highs and lows in emotions and magnitude of music to really create a perfectly put together piece of art. I am so impressed with everything I've heard here and cannot wait to delve in to even more as we keep going!
vv---Share the LOVE!! (I mean, that's what this one was about, right?)--vv