Taken from Face Magazine (December 2004)
Michael Franti & Spearhead
by Michele Morris
I remember the first time I heard Michael Franti's voice. If you've ever heard him yourself you could probably agree that a voice like his is hard to forget. I had been listening through Jonatha Brooke's 1997 release title track "Steady Pull" and Franti was singing backup on that particular song. The song itself is catching, but it's that way because Franti makes it so. His deep, infectious voice pulls the listener in, much like the way his voice and social message does on his albums, especially his newest release, Everyone Deserves Music. Along with Ziggy Marley, Franti and his band Spearhead, come to Portland's State Theater on February 29 to spread the love through music, much like Ziggy's father, the late Bob Marley, did in his time. There hasn't been a more relevant and perfect time for newcomers to give Franti's music a listen. Just the same, there isn't a more relevant time to hear the message in the words that Michael Franti sings and speaks.
Franti has been in the music business for nearly two decades, but it was in 1994 that he signed with Capitol Records to join his new band, Spearhead. Franti and Spearhead quickly became a musical and social phenomenon, with their records Home and Chocolate Supa Highway selling hundreds of thousands of copies. The trend is sure to continue with their latest, Everyone Deserves Music. I can't say enough about the messages-political, social and personal-on this album. Franti says in the "Words" section of his website, www.spearheadvibrations.com, "I believe that music is one of the healing arts and it is for this reason that I continue to pour my heart into the work that I do." If the track "Never Too Late" doesn't catch you, doesn't relate to the listener in some sense, you aren't hearing it. On the title track Franti states exactly that "even our worst enemies deserve music." I couldn't agree more. And on "Bomb The World," he sings boldly, "We can bomb the world to pieces/ But we cannot bomb it into peace." If the messages don't reach you, the music surely would. Mixing rock, reggae, dancehall, bossa nova, Afrobeat, and funk, this album is sure to get you moving. If anything, it's the perfect disc to play at a party, but it is so much more.
If I were to sample all of the powerful statements that Michael Franti makes throughout this album, it would fill pages. Everyone Deserves Music is an album that everyone should hear as its messages resonate with the world climate right now. But it also speaks of personal issues that each of us can relate to. "Half of the record is songs about what's happening in the world right now, and the other half is about how we cope with it as people who are concerned about what's going on," Franti says of the album. "This spectre of war, intimidation, this nation vs. the rest of the world, it wears us out. Half the record is a healthy dose of venting anger about that, and the other half is about how do we hold on to our spirituality, our community and our connectedness to each other." This album moved me and it's sure to move you.