Ziggy Marley has always struck me as a really cool character, and the imitations never live up (you know who you are...). Anywhos, this particular album is his 4th studio one, and is said to be his most political and personal to date. The constant note on all the videos and reviews has been that "the themes are responsibility and hope, tempered hope and intemperate love."
Now, right from the get-go, I'll tell you, this is something different from what we've ben experiencing. "Wild and Free," the title and first album track, which features Woody Harrelson, is all about smoking. More than that I guess, it's about accepting it. I guess legalization is where we're going to get political.
"Forward to Love" is the second track. I actually love the approach into the chorus - the choir that's brought in form of those BGVs a is really a great, simple punch to the words. Then this awesomely weird guitar parts plays. Now, sure, "baby, we can get hazy" is probably the least fitting lyric, but otherwise the song it really well done. Ziggy directed a remix video that features clips from his tour:
I like the progression of the songs on this album. There's enough difference in each to keep it interesting, and the subjects are not all necessarily the same. "Changes," done with Daniel Marley, takes on a different tone from the previous ones, yet maintains the theme of differences that we've heard before. The idea of making changes for ordinary people is kind of interesting - more of a world view.
"Personal Revolution" literally starts off with a marching drum beat. We've now gone from the world and people in it changing to a very personal song of need for change. Man, I feel yah Ziggy. It's a song for personal strength and making it through, but it's rock-reggae, so it's something unlike anything I've ever heard before. Really an incredibly done conceptual song.
I like "Get Out Of Town" specifically for the determination behind the music. The lyrics are okay, but the music is what drives this one completely. The combination of this almost western/folk sounding guitar as the small bass lick is really awesome. It almost has the feeling of something updated from the old Westerns of John Wayne.
"Road Less Traveled" leaves something to be desired somehow. It's not a bad song, but I don't care to listen to it again. I think the verses are maybe a little lost on me, or just sound like rambling without a true point. I do appreciate the musical risks being taken throughout though, in unexpected ways completely.
Interesting name for a song for our next one, "Mmmm Mmmm." And yes, I got the number of m's right. It's very much a chill, slow-down song this time, but still a reflection on the world. This time we include God's view in the mix. And the chorus is the "mmm's." The guitar comes in just a little bit from here to there, and I believe makes the entire mood of the song.
"Welcome To The World," appropriately, begins with a baby crying. "I can't promise it's a good place." In all honesty, it does sound like a child's song, even if it is being completely honest. The music even has that kid-ish sound that would have toddlers up and dancing a bit to the fun light piano sounds.
We're going a little 60's for "A Sign," which is probably the most classic-reggae song I've heard yet on this album. I really do dig how personal Ziggy takes the songs as messages to others. I don't know if he had particular people in mind when he created each, but it does seem like many of these songs are very pointed at someone in particular, no matter who's delivering them.
"Reggae In My Head" is just plain adorable. I don't know how else to totally describe it. It's only missing some steel drums, otherwise it would screen reggae sound all over it. There's even some cool different percussion instruments strewn throughout that make it different and enjoyable.
We end the album with "Elizabeth." No steel drums here either. There's a definite ending to the album with political tones even in the instrumentation itself. "Uncle Sam is a naughty old man. He says he wants you but he only wants to abuse you. ...Uncle Sam's gonna have his day." It's anti-establishment, to this unexpected sound backing it, which almost makes it hard to take seriously. However, it clearly means something to those involved.
Added to My Playlist:
FULL ALBUM SPOTIFY LISTEN LINK
While some of the album is mediocre lyrically, it's really, musically, a fantastically done piece of art as a whole. The use of instruments and variety in rhythms makes this fantastic. By far, this is the best reggae album I have heard in a very long time. Really, it's incredible the work he's done here, and the arrangements blew me away.