The album of my summer is most definitely SOULROCKER, the new release from Michael Franti & Spearhead, the globally-conscious, awareness-provoking, justice-crying, love-believing artist & band that have been the creative soundtrack of the Gospel for me since I was first introduced to their music during seminary.
“Soulrocker,” as the album jacket defines it, is “one who lives from the heart, with compassion for all, and possesses a tenacious enthusiasm for music, live and the planet.” The album has all of the great Franti/Spearhead hallmarks of “soulrocker” spirit: a woke examination of injustice in its many forms & places, a determined love for all life & creation, a knack for singing right to the heart of things, and an infectious spirit that cannot be kept from dancing.
Longtime fans of Michael Franti will find delightful hints of previous albums and tracks hidden throughout SOULROCKER: references to rude boys, a new take on “I Got Love For Ya” (All Rebel Rockers 2008), and — at least to my ear — echoes from the rhythmic track of “I Wish That I Could Be You” (Love Kamikaze 2005) undergirding “Do You Feel The Way That I Do?”
SOULROCKER is a pick-me-up album:
“Shine your light until the break of dawn,
and shine your light if you’re all alone.”
It’s a fall-in-love album:
“There’s not a worry in the world
when I’m rollin’ with you girl.”
It’s a standing-in-the-need-of-prayer album:
“There’s a part of me that always
needs to pray; there’s a part of me
that wants to run away.”
It’s a lament-the-world album:
“I’m hearing all the time about another Brother
leaving life far before his time.”
It’s a change-the-world album:
“Could you ever give more today?
Or could you give a little
to help love find a way?”
It’s also, with the surprising but artfully-infused addition of techno, a dance album, quite likely to inspire hip-swaying and hand-raising whether in the kitchen or the car or the club.
From start to finish, SOULROCKER is an album that grounds and uplifts my spirit as Franti is always able to do, for which I’m especially grateful this summer. I commend it highly for your summer too — or winter or spring, or vacation or workday. Check it out!