Review of Fly Rasta the new album by Ziggy Marley.
When you say the name Marley a few things spring to mind. For the general public, if you say Marley and add the word reggae, one name comes to mind. In fact to a lot of the public if you say reggae the name Bob Marley is the first that springs to mind. Needless to say, Ziggy Marley, Bob Marley‘s son had a lot to live up to.
Whilst Ziggy may not be the global icon that his dad was, he has carved himself out a very, very successful reggae career. This career has seen millions in sales and many gongs from various awards bodies. The latest award being, Ziggy Marley‘s sixth grammy at this years ceremony. Ziggy won best reggae album for Ziggy Marley In Concert. He even beat off competition from Snoop Lion (aka Snoop Dogg) for that one.
Ziggy Marley does have a lot more to offer than just being son to an icon. Like his father he is an activist and humanitarian. But like his father, he is an incredibly talented, singer, song writer and producer in his own right. With this impressive backdrop Ziggy Marley releases his fifth solo studio album, Fly Rasta, scheduled for released in mid-April.
The PR blurb accompanying Fly Rasta promised a lot. It gave the impression that what I was about to hear was much more than a reggae album. Now no offence to the PR companies out there, but they all promise more and often (they are only doing their jobs) we only get the norm at best. So is Fly Rasta any different?
Well the first thing that you notice from Fly Rasta is the amount of influences the album has. The credits including music professionals that have worked with a diverse group of people from Tears for Fears to Michael Jackson. Huge names. This kind lead to many preconceptions in one’s head. I was concerned that I might just be listening to a jumbled pop record with a slight reggae hint. Kind of like Sid Owen‘s foray in to music (kids ask your parents).
Thankfully, from the moment you hit play on Fly Rasta, those concerns are unfounded. Yes the styles do jump about a little. Yes you do struggle to get a story or consistency from the experience and it doesn’t flow like an album normally does. But that doesn’t matter on iota. It feels like Ziggy Marley has made this album for Ziggy Marley. He experiments with styles and sounds. He takes the lister on a bit of a sonic rollercoaster. Yet he also seems to have managed to create a series of tracks that have commercial crossover.
The opening track I Don’t Wanna Live On Mars, probably sets the tone. If you didn’t know that this was Ziggy Marley before playing you might be excused for thinking that this was from a contemporary pop singer. In fact the flip flop, light music mixed with the upbeat delivery from Ziggy Marley, instantly made me think, this could have been a Bruno Mars track. Ziggy delivers his lyrics in a similar style, but keeps the reggae vibe through both his accent and at the points when the sonics break back. Now before you all jump on this, I am not saying that this is a Bruno Mars track or that this is an imitation, its just in a similar style.
Other tracks on the album have a more pop feel. Sounds similar to Robbie Williams also appear on the album. Obviously there are some reggae bankers on Fly Rasta as well. The title track is a really happy and upbeat, modern reggae track. This is distinctly Ziggy Marley and I promise you will be singing along after a few listens.
Overall, Fly Rasta (album and track) is brilliant. This is exactly the kind of album you can see Ziggy Marley wanted to produce. This has a commercial angle, but isn’t a commercial sellout. The composition and production are leading edge. Ziggy Marley‘s vocals are as tight as ever. Most of all, this is a first class modern reggae classic. We salute you Ziggy Marley.
Ziggy Marley‘s world tour kicks off on 8th April, details can be found on Ziggy Marley’s site. For us Brits, he is in London on 23 April, playing Electric in Brixton. Try to get along to see him.