Spoken word artist, Levi The Poet has been an independent artist for nine years now. You can clearly see all the hard work he puts in. Well, Levi’s back at it with his first album in almost three years, Cataracts. Since his last album, Correspondence (A Fiction), We have seen Levi progress in his writing and this album is a prime example of this. We got a little tease of what the album would sound like with his release of the empowering single, “Big Business” featuring JGivens. Cataracts is honest, catchy and relatable. The album has a clear theme that’s persistent through the entire album.
Opening with “Simul Justus et Peccator”, Levi The Poet created a perfect image on the message this album was going to send. In this song, you hear “keep forgiving” after the first verse which may or may not have been an intentional foreshadowing of the last track on this album. Either way, I love that it’s there. Although this is the shortest track on Cataracts, it’s packed with alliterations. After the first verse, the words “call it” are repeated in different phrases, keeping it powerful and interesting. The music just adds to the power of this song.
In every song, besides “Big Business” we hear the phrase, “keep forgiving.” I love how this phrase keeps appearing in songs and how this album ends with a song called “Keep Forgiving.” I feel everything is very connected in this sense. Again, I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, but I think it’s genius. Placing a song in the middle of the album without this lyric makes you forget that forgiving is a theme of this album for a few minutes. Don’t worry! “The Dark Night of the Soul” brings you right back in with forgiving at the end of this song. Again, I think this is genius. Each song doesn’t overpower the idea of forgiving, but it subtly reminds you every once in a while. Genius is the only thing I could think of when I realized this.
In the song, “As Far As the East is From The (Navel to The) West” this lyric came in and hit me like a pile of bricks; “I have not forgotten your voice and the only thing it speaks is love and I recognize it because that word never comes to me from me.” The music matches up perfectly with this song, and at the end of this lyric the music completely stops for a second, so you can really let that set in. I genuinely felt that in my chest. This was one of those lyrics that just stuck with me through the rest of the song. The first time I listened to this, I tuned out for a few seconds and kept replaying those lyrics in my head.
Ending the album with “Keep Forgiving” solidified this album. I was lucky enough to hear “Keep Forgiving” live twice before it was officially released. Hearing it live was different than hearing the studio version. Not in a bad way, both versions were amazing. My best friend and I both cried the first time we heard it during a house show in Michigan that Levi The Poet was headlining. I remember the live version of this song being more edgy. It could have been because there wasn’t any background music when he performed it live. While performing, Levi would continuously put a fist to his jaw (gently) while he said the lyric, “life tends to beat the binaries out of you.” That image stuck with me. The studio version of this song is calming. The background music is slower and more calming than most of the album. I also really enjoy the receptiveness of the saying, “keep forgiving.” It keeps the message clear and strong. The lyrics of this piece are honest. They’ll make you want to forgive every person who has done you wrong. They’ll help you realize there’s more to life than holding grudges against people. Levi says, “Hate is a prison,” and listening to this song confirms that. It sends a good message and it’s grown to become one of my favorites. This was the perfect ending to this album.
I give Cataracts a ten out of ten. Almost every song was relatable and I could find pieces of myself in some lyrics. Levi The Poet has a way of being able to connect with his audience in ways that not every artist can do. The first time I listened to Levi The Poet, I felt instantly connected. It’s rare to find that in artists. This could possibly be my favorite release of his to date.
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Simul Justus Et Peccator
The Fort Lauderdale Five
Motion Made Visible Memories Arrested in Space
Big Business (feat. JGivens)
The Dark Night of the Soul
As Far As the East Is from the (Navel to the) West