When I was asked to review Ziggy Marley’s new album Fly Rasta I was incredibly under-prepared for the intense lift-off of the album. The rocket effect may fit perfectly with the lyrical content of opening track ‘I Don’t Wanna Live On Mars’, yet it seemed a tad too far-removed from the upbeat, laid-back atmosphere of this album which became so easy to effortlessly slip into and indulge in.
With a harsher guitar sound than I would have generally associated with reggae, Ziggy Marley was able to kick things off with a track that anyone could enjoy, reggae fan or not. Following this, he delves deep into the reggae spirit with the album’s titular track which helped highlight why Ziggy has already got six Grammys to his name. A catchy chorus mixed with that sweetly infectious reggae sound helps make this a genuine anthem and the input of legendary toaster U Roy helps to make this track stand head and shoulders above anything else remotely similar and the perfect uplifting bassline helps make it an instant classic.
Journeying through the album, the emotion-laden ‘Lighthouse’ brings an unexpected element of folk into the mix which creates a beautiful slow-groove that not many would be able to pull off in such a convincing fashion. The reggae feel isn’t lost for a second throughout the album and the basslines from a variety of musicians are all so expertly executed and well thought through, contributing to the allure of Fly Rasta from start to finish. This is certainly not a project lacking for strong ideas when it comes to choruses and there are brave moments of musical creativity on offer including the use of sitar solo. Marley has certainly got an impressive knowledge of the music of the world and he is never afraid to take risks that others wouldn’t.
Space is used excellently throughout the album with the contrast between blaring, full-frontal pushes being used opposite simple, softer textures creating a balance of sounds that will help excite every last millimetre of the listener’s ear drum. The stripped-back ‘So Many Rising’ feels like it has been ripped straight from the heart of Paul Simon and the lyrical brilliance of Ziggy’s father is certainly an element which has seamlessly been passed down.
I may not know much, if anything, about reggae, but I found this album so infectious and uplifting that it has motivated me all week long. Ziggy Marley is a truly inspiring lyricist and the musical ability and judgement throughout this album has made it a complete, overwhelmingly impressive piece of work.
More of the same please.