As a Hasidic Jew singing dancehall reggae and rapping, Matisyahu is so outside the realm of expectation as to be beyond any questions of authenticity, and he’s too skilled to be dismissed as a novelty.
Born Matthew Miller, Matisyahu is on a mission to spread positive messages on Light, his third studio album.
The album ranges widely, from widescreen electro to triple-time toasting to loping reggae to splashes of hard-rock guitars, and it features guests including reggae legends Sly & Robbie, members of the L.A. ska-punk band Fishbone, and, for “On Nature,” a boys choir and bagpipes.
But all the positivity ends up feeling relentless over the course of the 13 anthems, and Matisyahu too often relies on platitudes and sloganeering: “Freedom!”, “Strive to be alive every day,” “There’s something wrong with a system that leaves its children victims.”
It’s hard to disagree with the sentiments, but it’s also hard to be inspired by truisms.
— Steve Klinge, McClatchy-Tribune