Review: Matisyahu – Live At Stubbs II

Review: Matisyahu – Live At Stubbs II

Matisyahu – Live At Stubbs II
1.) Kodesh
2.) Time of Your Song
3.) Mist Rising
4.) Youth
5.) Darkness Into Light
6.) I Will Be Light
7.) Two Child One Drop
8.) Open The Gates
9.) One Day
10.) Motivate

The Pier Album Rating:

Record Label: Epic Records

Album Background:
On a hot August night in Austin, TX, this past summer, Matisyahu took the stage at the famed music venue Stubb’s with his band, Brooklyn’s The Dub Trio, for an unforgettable live music experience. Showcasing his impressive artistic evolution, Matisyahu unveiled brand new song Open The Gates and performed songs that span his lauded catalogue, including selections from 2004?s Shake Off The Dust…Inviting the intimate crowd to join him in documenting the extraordinary energy in the room that evening, he and his audience created the musical time capsule that is now Live at Stubb’s Vol. II.

Album Review:
After five years, three studio releases and two million albums sold worldwide, Matisyahu returned to the place where the magic of live music acoustics helped bring his beat boxing-infused grooves to the masses — Stubb’s Bar-B-Q in Austin, Texas — and recorded a follow up to 2005’s critically acclaimed breakthrough album, Live at Stubb’s.

The rapping reggae-rocker opens Live at Stubb’s Vol. II with the ethereal sounds of Kodesh, which mixes chant-like lyrics with chiming sound effects, airy synth sounds and shimmering cymbals that build and break into a marching drum backbeat. The track immediately sets the tone of the album by creating a sonic atmosphere that conjures the mental image of sunset on a hot August night with a crowd of people watching as Matisyahu and his band, The Dub Trio, start their set live at Stubb’s.

With ten instrumentally-bursting tracks, coming from the Hasidic rapper’s distinctive discography, such as 2006’s Youth and 2009’s Light, Vol. II immerses its listener’s headspace into the audience at Stubb’s through an original and dynamic listening experience sprinkled with moments illuminating Matisyahu’s improvisational and versatile live-performance style.

Two of my favorite tracks come at the middle of the album and, with a combined running time of about 20 minutes, these two songs definitely exemplify the full range of Matisyahu’s dynamic musicality. Youth, has been sonically revamped with a more funked-up guitar and drum back beat and quicker beat box lyrical delivery, which takes the song into a genre-blending hip-hop direction. I Will Be Light, is a chillaxed gem with a roots-reggae vibe that features Matisyahu’s vocal style taking on a more harmonic, almost new age hymnal, tone. The essence of Vol. II’s enlightening lyrical messages, about love and light and making conscious choices in everyday life to choose and stick up for those virtues, is also evident within these tracks.

When it comes to the Live at Stubb’s rendition of One Day, I personally was a bit underwhelmed, but this is a perfect example of how subjective musical insights can be. I was lucky enough to see Matisyahu on tour in Boca Raton with Sublime with Rome and The Dirty Heads during the summer of 2010 and that particular performance of One Day was so filled with palpable live-music-energy that it will forever go down as one of my favorite concert moments ever. So, while the Live at Stubb’s performance is intimate and resonates, I can’t help feeling like the audience got kind of gypped on energy, but this is based off my awesome personal experience.

After listening to both installments of the Live at Stubb’s series back to back, Matisyahu has definitely gone through an artistic evolution as a vocalist and musician. While there is no King Without a Crown, Vol. II is a much more cohesive flow as an album and live performance. The pace of the sound is richer and fuller with a lot more roots-reggae and less flighty beat boxing. In my opinion, Live at Stubb’s Vol. II is definitely a welcomed member to the Matisyahu fan’s album collection as well as anyone else who likes a purely original and dynamic listening experience to jam out to.

Written & Reviewed by: Amber McDonald

[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer, expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, not the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]