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Music Review: Matisyahu – Spark Seeker

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Spark Seeker by Matisyahu is an uneven album with quite a few moments that make me wonder why I’m bothering to listen to Matisyahu and also with moments that make me wonder why the hell I’m not listening to more Matisyahu.

For a while I was a fan of Matisyahu (real name, Matthew Paul Miller) but I think that may have been a moment where I was caught up in the novelty of a man decidedly rocking a Hebrew stage name and traditional jewish themes into the world of hip-hop with a nod towards reggae. Really, when he dropped his second album Youth, despite the fact that iTunes ran a special promotion for pre-orders, it wasn’t until the video dropped for “King without a Crown” that people noticed the novelty of the look Matisyahu was bringing to a genre. Still, there was always that nugget of knowledge that talent lied just behind those Jewish curls.

Enter Spark Seeker, Matisyahu’s fourth studio album (I’m not sure I even knew the man had a third drop in 2009, which was Light) and I’m going to be honest and say I gave this a chance simply due to my memories of his past music. I didn’t expect much difference in the music.

I was wrong.

For the most part, the songs on this album absolutely shine with a verve and polish that many R&B artists would kill for. Tracks like “Sunshine,” “Searchin,” “Shine On You,” “Crossroads” and “Buffalo Soldier” are just a joy to listen to. There is such a depth to the production with its wonderful blend of traditional and modern takes on hip-hop, rhythm and blues and pop music, that the tracks seem to just dance across your eardrums.

Unfortunately there are also tracks such as “King Crown of Judah,” which suffers from the dreaded “too many MCs” disease that is so prevalent on modern tracks. How many guest stars do you need on a track? I grabbed this album to listen to Matisyahu, not Shyne and Ravid Hakalani. And, though it’s not a terrible track, I must confess that “Tel Aviv’n” just seems like a sore thumb to me. It’s a lush and simple little harmony track but there doesn’t seem to be any substance to it. It would belong more on a dance album than this particular album.

To each his own though. It may be someone’s favorite track on the disc and I wouldn’t argue too much with them about it.

Other than that one track that doesn’t seem to quite jibe with the rest and that one clunker of a track that has too many guest stars and not enough of the main star, I have no hesitation in my mind when I tell you that this is a really good album.

And it’s an album, make no mistake, not just a collection of songs. This is something you can easily press play on and let play through over and over again. I know I do, even though I may be guilty of removing one track (or two) from the playlist before I do.

Matisyahu’s Spark Seeker is a solid album by an artist I was always intrigued with but never took seriously, until now. If I were to rate it on a scale of one to 10, I’d have to say that it rates a 7.5 on any day of the week.

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About Michael Jones

  • Rigo

    Nice article. Since it will take some time (hope not much) before I can get it, I wanted to hear some opinions and fortunately I found positive ones. Matisyahu music is definitively something people should listen to. Thanks a lot

  • http://thinkingoffcenter.com Michael Jones

    Since I’ve written this I’ve still been listening to the album. Not many ‘review’ albums continue to hold my attention that way. He’s grown into a solid musician.

  • Jon Esposito

    This is my current favorite album and current favorite band. I can’t stop listening to it or singing the songs when I’m not. My 2 month old son loves when I sing the songs to him. I can’t wait till the Norfolk, VA show on Sept 15th. Go see him live it’s a high energy incredible show, saw them in philly dec of 2012. His new back up band Dub Trio are amazingly talented. They make the live stuff sound as good as the studio recording. They play the old songs with a new twist. I keep telling people to check out the new sound.