Michael Franti and Spearhead The Sound of Sunshine

Great art comes out of great struggle, so the cliché goes. In Michael Franti's case, a taste of mortality (his appendix burst while on tour) has led to a song cycle filled with joie de vivre and, well, sunshine. Franti's newfound lease on life is palpable throughout this summery record, which is filled with platitudes of the "make the most of what you've got" variety. Lyrically, he has been stronger, but The Sound of Sunshine is a non-stop, reggae-hop popshop designed to make you dance while gleaning more airplay in the wake of 2008's successful All Rebel Rockers. You'll be singing "Love Don't Wait" and the title track long after the backlit screen on your iPod is shut off for the night. Franti teams up with Sly & Robbie again for "Shake It," a sweaty celebration of carnality and thanks to a guest appearance by the queen of slackness, Lady Saw, the track is off the hook. Critics may miss his more overt political raps, but amidst all the sheen and smiling, Franti still takes time to nod to those hit by the recession on "Gloria," a down-tempo track with an infectious chorus liberally lifted from Johnny Clegg's "Dela." (Capitol)