2009-10-03Born Matthew Miller but using his Hebrew name, Matisyahu, as a recording artist, this New York native melds reggae, dub, hip hop and rock into a mostly pleasing stew of sounds to support his pleas for peace, love, understanding and enlightenment. Those with an ear for the more challenging beats and changes in tempo will find much to like in "Smash Lies". Hip hop is the order of the day for "Escape" although the musical backdrop heads towards dub reggae. Other tracks such as "We Will Walk" and "For You" have a big production and rock hooks that wouldn’t be out of place on a Church or U2 disc. "One Day" has an easy groove that is reminiscent of Bob Marley’s "No Woman, No Cry" while "I Will Be Light" has a slow, percolating dub bass beat that propels the introspective lyrics about the search for identity, a theme repeated in "So Hi, So Lo" which has a big sing along chorus. "Motivate" and "On Nature" both grab a mid-tempo punk/reggae groove that sounds like vintage Joe Strummer and the Mescalaroes or even early Clash. Matisyahu proves himself to be a vocal mimic as well with the chorus to "Darkness Into Light" sounding eerily like solo Ozzie Osbourne and "Silence" echoing Paul Simon. While those who dislike hip hop or who insist on categorizing Matisyahu as a reggae artist will struggle with this disc most everyone else will find something to like. Smitty
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