Friday, October 24, 2008

Matisyahu: Shattered- Album Review

When I first became aware of Matisyahu I assumed he would be a flash in the pan.  Somehow the novelty of a Hasidic Jew who raps to reggae couldn't sustain itself.

Boy was I wrong.

This week saw the release of his new EP Shattered.  Consisting of four new songs, the EP is a precursor to his forthcoming full length album Light (due in early 2009).

Much of the EP was recorded in Jamaica, and the island vibe is rife throughout the tracks.  Matisyahu was joined by Jamaican reggae rhythm combo Sly & Robbie on drum and bass.

The lead-off track "Smash Lies" is the most hip hop song.  Opening with banjo and string samples it quickly falls into a groovy hip hop beat over which Matisyahu lays down reggae infused vocals.

The standout song on the EP is "So Hi So Lo".  The most rock(ish) track, it is lifted by bright, hopeful vocals and an easy-going mellow ska lilt worthy of Sublime.  Speaking of ska, one of the all-time greats, Norwood Fisher of Fishbone fame, joins Matisyahu on the song.

"Two Child One Drop" is an intriguing song.  Beginning with the island vibe that permeates much of Shattered, the 6-minute track eventually morphs into a middle eastern style outro.

While I'm still not sold on Matisyahu's ability to stay interesting and vital over the long term, Shattered is a decent feel good EP.

Best track: "Si Hi So Lo"

Track listing for Shattered:
  • Smash Lies- MP3
  • So Hi So Lo
  • Two Child One Drop
  • I Will Be Light
Matisyahu plays the Phoenix in Toronto on Nov. 16th and Metropolis in Montreal on Nov. 17th.
6.5

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