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I have been a big fan of Matisyahu for quite a long time.  Anyone that knows me, knows my love of reggae; the sound, the rhythm, the message, the beat, the one drop, the vibe. When I first heard Matis I was so intrigued, who is this Jewish guy with this amazing reggae sound, an amazing voice, lyrics with so much meaning (and the beatboxing)?.  The message was basically the same as reggae! While not the same roots reggae coming out of Jamaica, he made it work so well, combining reggae, hip hop, alternative rock and more.  Such a unique but familiar vibe and message. He has evolved over the years, changing up styles and genres with each new album, but the one standard was the voice, message and storytelling.  I love seeing and hearing that growth and that evolution. And while I may like the earlier, more reggae-esque vibe, Matis brings us new and interesting music all the time, testing the limits to his creativity.

I was given the Hold The Fire bio and there is a statement that sums this up so perfectly; “All the while his musical parameters were expanding into a shapeshifting collision of reggae, hip-hop, alt rock and boldly inventive pop. His 2014 album Akeda, for example, hit Billboard's Top 10 in not one, not two, but four album categories: modern rock/alternative, rap, rock, and independent.”  While there is nothing like hearing Matis do one of his classics live (“King Without A Crown,” “Jerusalem,” “One Day”), I had the pleasure hearing him in 2017 at The State Theatre in State College, PA (we are still waiting for him to return) right before Undercurrent was released and he played a few songs from that album for the first time live. The style, the vibe, was really different, but the crowd loved every second of it. That album didn’t have songs, it had journeys.

The new Hold The Fire EP starts off with “Fireproof,” it touches on a universal harmony, especially given the current events in Israel. A song that slides into themes of perseverance, gratitude and appreciativeness. It is a nice mellow groove, his voice so nice to follow through the song with a wonderful message.  It is a song that was conceived by a dream he had. He walks us through the dream and his message, he really pulls you into this voyage.  And the little touch of beatboxing is a great addition to the song. He brings us to “End Of The World,” a unique sound with this song an almost sonic sound, reminds me of songs from Undercurrent, not the same reggae vibe we are used to, but a strong message,  “We move through our lives building bridges and burning some. Preparing for battles with the experiences we have and using discernment to make the best choices we can,” shares Matisyahu.

Track three is “Fools Gold” and possibly my favorite track on the EP.  I love the chill beat and bass and Matis’s message.  He changes up his tempo and flow throughout, I only wish the song was longer. It is about being created in the likeness of God, but that does not mean we are Gods. We should have a sense of modesty and accountability.  Matis brings us to “Love Supplier” with a nice guitar riff throughout, a nice upbeat song. My head just keeps bobbin’ to this joint. I love the sound of his voice during the chorus. “Baby I’ve been running low, hope you know it in your soul, you are my Love Supplier.” We finish off with “Lifetime,” another one of my favorites, a tribute to community. He hits us with a little “scat” then flows in with his lyrics, a great flow switching up the vocals and sweet harmonizing in the background.  A good up-tempo song, you want to get up out of your chair and groove to this, head bobbin’ up and down.

Hold The Fire is simply a great EP, and its amazing to see the one thing that never changes in all of his releases is his beautiful voice and his wonderful and meaningful messages. The music creation and production just keeps growing, changing and evolving, while still standing true to what makes Matisyahu, well, Matisyahu. I am craving more after listening to this, we get a little mix of older Matis, but a touch from his nearly two decades bringing us significant, emotional and soulful tunes. This is a must listen, there is a little bit of everything mixed in this five track EP.  Be sure to grab a copy when its released on Feb 2nd!

One Love- Todd

Todd Judd

Photojournalist - Pennsylvania

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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