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.)


blistercrack blacktop voice,
hotmix mind, chopped-up line
This is the output of the old and new

We reach out to touch but there’s too much space

JD Salinger moans in our head
Sylvia Plath kills herself again and again
and again, finally gets it right, lies dead
at our feet, her children screaming… screaming
for one good mind / the kind of mind
that thinks in lines, not in dollar signs

Oh I wish I wish I wish I was born1
the girl who’s more fun / I’d show you my map2
if I only had one

but I’m black from neck to knee, black
to my shins, from my black-track feet to my V8
head, double-white-line face, eyes
desert dry

1. refers to Martha Wainwright’s song ‘Bloody Motherfucking Asshole’
2. refers to Steve Smart’s poem ‘Less the Predator’

(First published in Cottonmouth)

Echo and ache secret

Let me tell you in
A flat minor
that my feet are a snare and a tomtom Skin:
a splash cymbal Heart:
a hihat
a ching ching ching ching ching ching ching ching Gutcoil:
bass guitar and kickdrum Inter
locking Inter
woven In

So let my hair be slow electric,
my eyes be rests and cries,
the line of my lips be the echo and ache secret,
full of every
thing [un]
and kissing the mike with words without warning

(First published in WA Poets Inc Fresh Poetry)

The Fat Bird

feed the fat bird
feed the fat bird
feed the fatten the feed the fat bird
fatten the feed the fatten the fat bird
if you feed the fat bird
you’ll fatten the fat bird
and if you fatten the fat bird
you’ll ground it.

I’m the fat bird.

The fat bird still flies sometimes.
But if you feed the fat bird
you’ll fatten the fat bird
and if you fatten the fat bird
you’ll ground it.

So she feeds the fat bird
she feeds the fat bird
she feeds she fattens she feeds the fat bird
she fattens she feeds she fattens the fat bird
She feeds the fat bird and grounds it.