Squeezing Out Sparks
4 Out Of 5 Stars
Matisyahu must have known his number was just about up. "Spark Seeker" finds him ditching the eclecticism of "Light" and "Youth" for a more electronic, hip hop (read, mainstream) sound. There's a lot of Auto-tuning and phase-shifted vocals and some guest appearances (rapper Shyne being the biggest name). In the biggest concession of all, gone are the huge beard and Hasidim garb. Heck, he's on a motorcycle on the album's inner-photo.
What this means for the music is actually very little. Middle Eastern influences are melded into the hip-hop and rap; right from the beginning with one J.Ralph, he kicks off what sounds like a call to prayer ("Crossroads"). Hebrew choruses and verses mix in with the ultra slick beats, courtesy of producer Kool Kojak. Kojak's credits are mainly along the lines of Ke$sha, Nicki Manaj, Katy Perry and many others, so you know this was a crafted sonic move. But Matisyahu can't help it. He remains as eclectic as ever with a greater - if that is possible - sense of being an uplifting force in his music.
There's a smooth sax solo in "Summer Wind," and a powerful lyric in "Fire Of Freedom" and slinky groove of "Tel Avivin'." Which is not a false way to groove as the man recorded "Spark Seeker" both in Los Angeles and Israel. Matisyahu took his own journey to make this album in the personal and mystical sense, with the end result being his tightest and possibly his most provocative disc to date.