“The Best of Times”
Paul “Sage” Francis has built a career out of going against the grain, tackling thorny sociopolitical issues while embracing the limelight of poetry slams and rap battles. His idiosyncratic style garnered him underground buzz well before his Anticon debut in 2002.
Li(f)e, his most adventurous album, is a collaboration with a dozen different singer-songwriter and acoustic-music types, finding Francis at his most personal over styles that aren’t necessarily conducive to rappers. Folk, country, western, indie rock, and more — it’s all delivered via big names such as Calexico, DeVotchKa, Califone, Tim Fite, ex-Grandaddy front-man Jason Lytle, Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, and producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine).