Matisyahu rocks Lee's Palace tonight (Thursday, October 27). Rating: NNNN
This live album, recorded at Austin's venerable Stubb's last February, should destroy any lingering doubts you might have about a Queens-bred Orthodox Jew's ability to channel the true spirit of reggae. Backed by a tight rhythm section made up, it seems, of other nice Jewish boys (who prob'ly discovered their love of dub while smoking doobs at Zionist camp), Matisyahu's righteously rugged dancehall crooning kicks the ass of cantors and Rastas alike. Listening to the soulful singer play off his audience's energy is inspiring, but the real joy here is Matisyahu's intelligent lyrics, which bridge the common messianic themes of Rastafarianism and Judaism without resorting to fire-and-brimstone dogmatism, drawing heavily on Biblical imagery but eschewing the icky misogyny of Judeo-Christian and Rasta patriarchy. Even hardened atheists will have a hard time resisting the 14th Street transcendence on Matisyahu's Aish Tamid, or 'continuous flame.'