LI (F) E
Sage Francis is a bit like a modern day Gil Scott-Heron, whose own 2010 release I’m New Here would make a great complement to this album of insistent personal style. Francis is a rapper who doesn’t play by hip-hop rules. He works up his politics, not the usual bragging of bling, and with members of Califone, Death Cab for Cutie and Grandaddy brings together a solid, musical approach that’s high on acoustic guitars and a bizarre sort of anti-folk. Highlights include “Three Sheets to the Wind,” “I Was Zero” and the nearly psychedelic “Diamonds and Pearls.” “The Baby Stays” and the spooky creep of “16 Years” are as close as Francis comes to “soft-rock.” “Worry Not” preaches anxiety as a permanent state of mind. “London Bridge” pumps with a punk spirit. “Love the Lie” sets up the fast-talking philosopher with alluring pop music. “The Best of Times” concludes things with an ominous sense that Francis is only beginning to tell his story, suggesting it contains plenty of future drama and strife and, eventually, redemption.