Album review: Michael Franti & Spearhead | Work Hard and Be Nice

Michael Franti continues his journey of opening the music loving universes joy valves with his 11th studio album ‘Work Hard And Be Nice’, dropping on 19 June. With few dark moments on any of the seventeen tracks, it’s a well-timed release.

Franti has definitely moved away from the heavy-hitting political Disposable Heroes era and into the light in the making of this album.

I can only imagine that Franti has plunged deep into meditative delta waves to get to such a happy place because ‘Work Hard and Be Nice’ is positively brimming with light. Upbeat messages of gratitude, love, peace and harmony leap from the opening two catchy tracks ‘I Got You’ and ‘Sun and Moon’ – both love songs perhaps dedicated to his beautiful wife, or life itself.

The absence of dark shadows on this album could be just the tonic to ease the hearts of the many human beings worldwide who may be struggling in the challenging times we are experiencing. Tracks like the laid back ‘Start Small Think Big’ and ‘Good Shit Happens’ should be just the remedy to spark high spirits in most listeners.

You could easily pop ‘All My Friends’ into a cool automobile commercial, or overlay ‘How We Living’ on a craft beer ad. Its chorus – “Oh my my my got me feeling so high throw your hands up let me know that you’re alright” totally evokes a party on the sand.

The slower track ‘PS I Love You’ has a lovely melody and rhythm; nothing lyrically dark in this light laid bare commitment to love better. It has a simple message; to remind us of the value of putting pen to paper to demonstrate love as a better choice than sending it via text message. Franti collaborates with many songwriters on this album. A standout is the collab with Sean McConnell for ‘I’m On Your Side’, a song that expresses eternal hope within its rich, warm acoustic layers.

It feels like Franti is on a high plane in his personal life and just wants everyone else to find the same inner peace to live a more fruitful, fun, less capitalistic existence and even get back to hugging one another again. Nothing is hidden in poetic metaphors or masterful imagery – it is spelled out simply, clearly, proudly, happily in a bountiful arrangement of optimistic songs.

‘Work Hard And Be Nice’ is a reminder that no matter who you are, where you are from or what religion you believe in, we are all in this together. Unintentionally timely, I am certain it will bring joy too many who long to step out from the shadows.

‘Work Hard And Be Nice’ is set for release on 19 June, 2020 on Thirty Tigers (through Cooking Vinyl Australia). Pre-order here.

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