Sage Francis, "Li(f)e"
Providence, R.I.-based indie rapper Sage Francis gets more personal than usual on his dynamic fourth album, "Li(f)e." Francis--who wears multiple hats as a spoken-word artist, MC and impassioned rocker--employs a versatile style on the set. The songs "Three Sheets to the Wind" and "Polterzeitgeist" utilize unrelenting punk basslines, while the trippy "Diamonds and Pearls" showcases his more aggressive, slightly embittered side ("The next time you see me it'll be through plexiglass/There ain't no bailouts in this jailhouse, no more petty cash"). The acoustic guitar, strings and organ featured throughout "Li(f)e" are particularly effective during the closing track "The Best of Times," where Francis' rhythmic, spoken introspection yields good advice about keeping your head up during hard times. Although Francis has described himself as a "low-confidence engine" since early in his career, the rapper has produced a strong and instantly relatable album with "Li(f)e."