Label: Epic/Sony BMG Release date: 25/08/09 Website: Following a stronger path of hip hop, the singer/rapper from Crown Heights, Brooklyn, known for his Hasidic Jewish image and spiritual lyrics, has come up with an album better produced than any of his previous releases. Unlike most of his past studio recordings, Light incorporates far more real sounding instruments and arrangements with depth and soul. Having had so much of this thrown into the new album I fear that Matisyahu has perhaps overdone himself, as the album at one point, verges on being over-sentimental and slightly corny. As ever, Matisyahu achieves a great balance in putting forth his message, one that pleas for a union of humanity in harmony, without being too patronizing and pious. Newcomers may expect the latter from him when they witness the musician in his traditional attire. To a certain extent he is prone to frequently refer to the Torah, at least in his early work, and although he puts most of that language to rest in Light there is still a strong spiritual message in each song. Matisyahu has always argued that himself and the musicians he performs with are not a 'Christian rock band', which is what's so important about his music; there's no quest to convert, it's just his take on relations with God, the earth and the people, and it's refreshing. Sometimes however, it seems that he gets a bit too caught up in his 'I Have a Dream' style thinking. In 'One Day', he sings about the much hoped for day when everybody says no to war, using exhausted phrases such as, 'we don't want to fight no more', with a melody that simply tries too hard to inspire joy. Another drawback to Light is Matisyahu's near abandonment of reggae, which he used to pioneer with brilliance in the modern era. There are sections which could be argued to have reggae rhythms, but lack the appeal that has been dropped. It seems also that in turning full on to hip hop, Matisyahu has abandoned all traces of the raw sound that his band have when playing live. His first album, Live at Stubb's, had this epic energy that I don't think can possibly be recaptured with the ways that Light is produced. Although I miss the sound of Live at Stubb's, I can't resent Light, which no longer possesses the predominantly fake sounding instruments of Youth. It is still an amazing and diverse accomplishment, made so by Matisyahu's passion constantly coming through. He is undoubtedly one of the most talented individuals to grace today's scene. Rating: 8/10