The opening song on Brett Dennen's third studio album pays homage to the City by the Bay. "San Francisco" is a bouncy, airy folk rocker that name-checks the city's landmarks like a Zagat guide with lyrics like "Down in Hayes Valley/ There's a lot of good restaurants." But things get much more interesting with the subsequent Afro-pop- inspired tune boasting a beautiful backing vocal by Femi Kuti. And though Hope for the Hopeless isn't nearly as political an album as 2006's So Much More, the lyrics on "Make You Crazy" present many good cases for loving with a liberal heart, infusing it all with a worldly, cultural groove somewhat similar to Paul Simon's work with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on 1986's Graceland. "Heaven" is another moving standout where Dennen's amazing vocal control and Billie Holiday-influenced inflections overshadow his meticulous phrasing. Borrowing a bit from Tom Petty's "Mary Jane’s Last Dance" and Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold," the romantic "Follow Your Heart" is the most rootsy number here, with a grinding Hammond organ, vintage sounding electric guitars, and an old Wurlitzer keyboard playing notes that are almost as warm as Dennen's affectionate sentiment.