Personal Journals is Sage Francis’ long-awaited first LP, complete with “journal entries” explaining the conception of each track and written apologies to all of his ex-girlfriends. This is a true concept album: no collaborations with other MCs, no appearances from Sage’s old Non-Prophets bangers, and no listener should forget the enormity of Sage’s troubles and accidentally smile while listening.

The production on Personal Journals is often excellent, highlighted by contributions from mayonnaise, Joe Beats and Sixtoo. “Inherited Scars,” produced by mayonnaise, features a beautiful saxophone during the hook, and Joe Beats’ “Runaways” begins with an equally somber guitar riff. Despite strong music, the album falters because Sage’s rhymes aren’t very interesting. Instead of transcending the individual bounds of heartache or painting an affecting portrait of some stark reality, Sage sounds overly self-indulgent.

Sage Francis is the MC that attacked freestyle championships as Xaul Zan, metal refugee, and on Personal Journals he even quotes Bon Jovi’s”You Give Love a Bad Name.” Unfortunately, as he croons the chorus, I’m not sure if he’s being ironic or not. Honesty is a rare trait in hip hop, and Sage should be commended for his genuine attempt to be candid, but this album pales in comparison to rock albums with the same goals. Next time I want to wallow in the inequities of the world I will listen to Bright Eyes before Personal Journals.

[Lee Shaker is killing you softly with his words]