Album: Sage Francis, Li(f)e (Anti)

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Sage Francis, leading light of the US "poetry slam" scene, here delivers his literate, occasionally verbose raps over backing tracks created by Modest Mouse producer Brian Deck with indie band Califone and various guesting luminaries of the US indie scene, including Grandaddy's Jason Lytle and the late Mark (Sparklehorse) Linkous.

With arrangements featuring things like slide guitar and fiddle drone ("The Baby Stays") and marimba and dulcimer ("16 Years"), the settings break new ground for hip-hop, but Francis is never outshone as he tackles his themes – notably struggles with organised religion, addiction and emotional confusion – with a furious articulacy that occasionally strays into incomprehensibilities – like "I fell into a venus flytrap with a nicotine eyepatch" – which at least has the virtue of keeping it unreal.

DOWNLOAD THIS Little Houdini; 16 Years; Love the Lie; Slow Man