Matisyahu play Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore last summer.(Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Matisyahu released his third album, Light, yesterday, and this time he has added new elements—“electonica, funky pop, straight-up guitar rock and even a touch of folk,” according to the AP—to his trademark Hasidic-inspired reggae. He’s taking some knocks for it at home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn: “Just yesterday I was walking down the street and some kid was walking by me,” he told the news service. “He’s like, ‘Matis, stick to the reggae!’ I was like, ‘Ahhgh!’” Songs on the new album are eclectic; one track, the AP says, “combines mystical themes he studied from Rabbi Nachman (1772-1810), the crisis in Darfur he learned about while contributing to a John Lennon tribute album, and the tragedy of Africa’s child soldiers.”

Some critics aren’t sold. “The biggest hurdle for white, Western reggae singers to overcome is phoniness: How to make reggae without faking patois (which sounds silly and condescending), and how to embrace its themes without reducing a racially and politically charged genre to mere schtick?” notes a reviewer in Paste. “Matisyahu spectacularly fails to solve these predicaments, but the biggest problem with his reggae is simpler: He’s unequivocally terrible at it. Not only do we get fake patois, but also raging electric guitars and cluttered hip-hop production.”

Hasidic Star Matisyahu Mixes It Up on New Album [AP]
Lyin’ From Zion [Paste]
Previously: Melody Maker