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In addition to new looks, Matisyahu also shows new musical style

“How is anything ever the same?” asked Matisyahu via Tweet upon the release today of his new album, Spark Seeker (Fallen Sparks Records). This album “is dedicated to those of you who see beyond the surface.”

Matisyahu, who set the Jewish and music world ablaze in late December of last year when he walked into an Upper West Side Supercuts and shaved off his trademark beard, says that these days he follows a more personal set of beliefs and practices. In an interview with the Times of Israel the artist said, “There are so many rules in Judaism, and if you get into them and you get obsessed and you have the kind of life that I have, it can make you a very unhappy person.” And, so, he decided it was time to make a change.

His fourth album mirrors that shift, exhibiting a distinct departure from the reggae sound his fans are used to. This album is more mainstream than Marley — take the debut single “Sunshine,”  a song about “children and the child within” that he wrote with his son in mind. A little Youtube search brought us back to an original performance of the song when Matisyahu still sported side locks and a skullcap, in which he was accompanied by a lone guitar:. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPuU-iTIFoI.

The new version features heavy base and synthesized strings and reflects the more pop/hip hop direction his new album takes.

Does he have a personal favorite? “I don’t have a favorite song but one I have been performing lately,” he said, “we’ve been staring off our shows with and the one my record starts with is ‘Crossroads.’” The singer/ songwriter claims he doesn’t even remember writing the lyrics but “after all the changes, and everything that has been going on — I just felt like that it really sums up a lot of what I was feeling.”

Childhood innocence and freedom from judgment are what Matisyahu seems to be hoping to capture in his latest work. A Bedouin girl he met on a visit to Israel graces the album’s cover and another young one giggles along on the back of his motorcycle in the video for Sunshine, also shot in Israel.

One dedicated fan seems to understand more than anyone else: “My one-year-old son got it right away. No judgments.”

Matisyahu is currently on tour in the U.S. His final performance will be in Mountain View, Calif. on September 29. Click here for a full list of tour dates: http://matisyahuworld.com/tour

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