Album review: Sage Francis ‘Li(f)e’

(Released 2010 on Francis’s label Strange Famous Records.)

I don’t have a ready genre slot in which to shove this, but there’s a Bill Hicks quote in the liner notes, so I had a good listen: Hicks knew what was missing, and he would’ve loved this. Spoken to souled grooves, following its own muse; say ‘hip-hop’ if you want to but that doesn’t cover it.

Open the liner, read the white-on-black notes, the poems that this man wrote. The rhyme is sparse, subtle, inventive, doesn’t drown out the content. This poet delivers, riffing in English ’til the language quivers — but he doesn’t let it splinter. He holds it together.

‘You’re not my Yoko so I cropped the photo and I rocked it solo.’

‘I had one too many one-way conversations with the liggy liggy Lord until I grew a scissor tongue and c-c-cut the cord. I put the phone on the floor, detached the wires in my head. It took a while to accept that that line was dead.’

This poetry is spoken over flows of melody — aching, pacing — and rhythmic attack. Indie-roar electric and stringtalk acoustic, loose and eclectic, full of emotion. Full-on production by Brian Deck.

‘They’re selling a click track but they call it a soul clap.’

Don’t give it to a Christian. They won’t like the diction. The knife inserted into organised religion. Because Francis grew up American like Lisa among the Simpsons but he didn’t let the shame and hate hold him back.

(Reviewed for RTR-FM.)