In the ten years since he started, Levi The Poet has honed his craft to a remarkable level and built up a loyal following that keeps on growing, even despite the little recorded material released in the four years since Correspondence (a fiction). In addition to a lot of touring, he's also been very active in writing newsletters and blog posts which engage with his fans and share his thoughts, stories, struggles, and musings. And considering the stylistic left turn Levi made with Correspondence, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear Levi once again branch out with Cataracts.
Levi's writing and performing is nothing if not dense, and with Cataracts, it is entirely possible that he has never reached such density. The stories told within these seven tracks are autobiographical, but it's a very different autobiography than past works, like Werewolves and Seasons. It's an autobiography of ideas, not stories. Among those ideas are things like spiritual abuse ("The Fort Lauderdale Five"), doubt ("As Far As the East is From The (Navel To The) West"), greed ("Big Business"), and of course, forgiveness (literally every single song). In fact, you won't find hardly any narrative elements on Cataracts, and as such, it is a much more difficult nut to crack the shell of, which is both a fantastic strength and a minor weakness. It's a s strength because I don't think anyone can ever listen to Cataracts without gleaning something new from it, no matter how many times they listen to it. And it's a weakness because stories are a lot easier to listen to than ideas, which makes Cataracts a difficult album to hear, but a necessary one.
Alex Sugg once again is responsible for the musical backdrop to Levi's poems, but things are a lot more intense and unsettling than Correspondence, which is of course fitting considering the darker subject matter. There is also a distinct hip-hop influence all over Cataracts both in Sugg's music and Levi's vocal performance (not to mention the guest appearance of JGivens, whose style fits this album to a tee). It is a natural progression for Levi, given how artists like Propaganda and Jackie Perry Hill have been blurring the lines between the two genres in recent years. He's come a long way since the seemingly senseless screaming of his early work, and with each album, he grows more and more accessible. While there is never a wrong time to start listening to Levi The Poet, starting with Cataracts is certainly a good time to do so.- Review date: 4/6/18, written by Mark Rice of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: LTP Words
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