Yell Fire!

In May 2004, Michael Franti packed up his guitar and a video camera and went with a couple of friends on a trip. He flew to country of Jordan and then bought a plane ticket to Baghdad, Iraq. His experiences performing songs like his anti-war anthem "Bomb the World" to both Iraqi families and U.S. soldiers led to some of the songs on the new album.

The album's lyrics, however, are no political screed as a result. Franti's words are what one might expect from the San Francisco-dwelling hippie that Franti ultimately is. Like on the song "East to the West," on which Franti sings "Love is too big for just one nation, and God is too big for just one religion." Franti tries for positive celebrations of life whenever possible rather than merely lamenting the war and suffering he has obviously seen in his recent travels.

One exception to the rule is the wryly bitter "Sweet Little Lies." Franti sings about a series of happy scenarios, like "tell me that the tax man lost his way/tell me that the hurtin' ain't gonna hurt no more/tell me that somebody stopped the war." He punctures these bright balloons on the chorus, though, intoning "You tell me lies, lies, lies/Sweet little lies."

The album was recorded in part in Kingston, Jamaica, and the setting brings out much more of the reggae influence on Franti's R&B/hip-hop/rock blend. The legendary reggae rhythm section of Sly & Robbie appear on four of the album's 14 tracks. Pop singer Pink also sings backing vocals on one song.

While the music is not quite as inspired as his 2003 magnum opus Everyone Deserves Music, Franti is still head and shoulders above most artists in creating music that not only gets listeners moving but makes them think.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director