Michael Franti the political activist is dead. The Sound of Sunshine, the bulk of which the Bay Area singer and MC wrote while recovering from a burst appendix, follows in the manner of last summer's top of the pops, "Say Hey (I Love You)." Expressing the simplest emotions through a sprightly mix of reggae and rock, Franti works the laid-back buzz of Jack Johnson, dosing it with just enough Lenny Kravitz to make it palatable. Facing his maker, he addresses the joys of life in a way that barely skirts cliché yet is bolstered by insistent beats aimed at the body so that the mind must follow. Highlights veer from the shimmering "I'll Be Waiting" and frantic "The Thing That Helps Me Get Through" to the pensive "Gloria." Summer's gone, but the buoyant vibe to The Sound of Sunshine extends year-round. (Michael Franti & Spearhead pierce Stubb's Wednesday, Sept. 29.)
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