Sound of Sunshine

Life becomes dearer when one is confronted with serious illness. Big picture ideals fade to background while something as simple as sunshine on water, a sleeping child, or a lover’s smell comes into focus. Most of The Sound of Sunshine was written while Michael Franti convalesced from a ruptured appendix. Not surprisingly the album over flows with gratitude and good will. Not that Franti has abandoned his politics - this peace activist never steers clear of big issues, but here he takes note of life’s “small” joys.

Franti waxes rhapsodically about family, friends, natural beauty, and especially, his woman. “Shake It” finds Franti jawing with his female foil – Lady Saw – about his lady’s lovable imperfections.” Even when addressing life’s challenges Franti is quick to offer a hopeful antidote. “Hey Hey Hey” addresses serious subjects like neighborhood violence and financial disaster. At the same time the music brims with major chords, joyous strings and Franti’s encouragement to rise above adversity. “The Sound of Sunshine,” is another song that’s indicative of Franti’s optimistic realism. Descriptions of ocean spume and tanning girls overpower thoughts of unemployment and potential bad weather. “Ill Be Waiting” is a U2-like anthem about the value of human life over material goods.

The Sound of Sunshine bursts with energy and danceable melodies. Franti’s musical base encompasses hip-hop, R&B, dance, and rock but in recent albums reggae, dub, and island grooves have become a dominant element in the mix.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix Host)