The flak that religiously oriented music gets from secular camps generally lies within the parameters of acceptance and "mass appeal." So it is strikingly refreshing when a rambunctious teenager discovers the meaning of his parents' G-d in the wilderness and sets out to mix that with his past rebellions. Matisyahu's reggae might not be the most innovative, but it is extremely well executed and delivered (thanks in part to the excellent, classically trained jazz musicians backing him). Moreover it is steeped in the positive message inherent in reggae and piety. Where others seem senseless, Matisyahu's work is engaging — danceable even — in the manner that reggae gets even the most casual of listeners moving. Elements of dub, traditional ska, hip-hop, and chazan are woven into a solid tapestry on which his vocals flow. With a new album, Youth, in tow, Matisyahu is making spiritual forefathers Bob Marley and Reb Shlomo proud.


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