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CD REVIEW

Matisyahu: Akeda

by Justin Jacobs on August 13, 2014

If there’s one theme that’s run through Matisyahu’s music—from his inspired, religious-reggae breakthrough Live At Stubb’s in 2005 to 2012’s generic pop-radio fodder Spark Seeker—it’s spiritual searching. On Akeda, the reformed Hasidic Jew makes music that matches his longing lyrics: These 15 tracks are sonically spacious, slowed-down electro-reggae covered in mist, and great to get lost inside. Any existing guitars resemble the far-off twinkle patented by U2’s The Edge, and Matisyahu’s vocals mostly meander through meditative melodies. Matis’ lyrics return from the vague uplift of Seeker to assorted Jewish narratives and symbols, giving the now-beardless mystic a bit more weight. And from the creeping, shadowy “Surrender” to the echoing march “Built To Survive,” this wide-open, dub-heavy sound is a big improvement. Haters will zero in on “Champion,” another sappy sing-along bleeding positivity. But if he cut that fat—plus, the dancehall “Vow Of Silence” and the overstuffed “Watch the Walls Melt Down”—then Akeda would be his best since Stubb’s.

Authors: Justin Jacobs
Artist: Matisyahu
Album: Akeda
Label: Elm City

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