Light, Matisyahu’s third studio album, feels like a natural expansion on its predecessor Youth. The singer, a towering embodiment of both the mystic spirituality of Hacidic judiasm and the Setting off with rapturous energy in ‘Smash Lies’ and ‘We Will Walk’, Matisyahu’s soaring voice and passionate spiritual idealism are bolstered by the former’s kick-laden hip-hop and the latters proto-police reggae.
It’s only when Matisyahu strays from his more reggae influenced backing that the album falters. In a pair of frankly bewildering genre choices, ‘For You’ is part acoustic wisdom and part epic power ballad, whilst ‘Darkness Into Light’ appears to be influenced by some deplorable nu-metal. The worst thing about these tracks though, they’re really quite confusingly good. Matisyahu’s energy, conviction and stunning vocal delivery give more than enough weight to counteract the shabby backing.
Thankfully, these movements are few and far between. Whilst Matisyahu’s sound has undeniably moved towards a more commercial veneer, his backings still often offer the heft that was offered in previous album tracks like ‘King Without a Crown’ and ‘Youth’. Standout tracks ‘Escape’ and ‘Struggla’ offer songs that sit as part reggae groove and part totemic, fuzz-washed epic, bringing a blend of exciting euphoria and sheer, sun-drenched fun. The sleepy Kingston strains of ‘I Will Be Light’ show that whilst his voice is excellent and the overall quality of the track is acceptable, Matisyahu shines brightest firing out his polemics at a faster tempo – something that seems slightly lacking in the album.
Whilst Light doesn’t burn with the same intensity that previous release Youth seemed to, the flame has by no means been extinguished. ‘Struggla’ and ‘Escape’ demonstrate that Matisyahu’s lyricism and soaring, inspiring hooks are as strong and as utterly uplifting as ever, though the appearance of the auto-tuned drivel of chipmunk-voiced R’n’B sleazeball Akon on a bonus version of album track ‘One Day’ is one sin that Matisyahu is going to have to atone for.
Light is out now and is preluded by the afore mentioned single featuring Akon. You can download a free MP3 using the widget below, as well as stream a fantastic live video.