Fly Rasta (Tuff Gong)
Unlike younger brother Damian – the harder dancehall/hip-hop/reggae star – Bob’s eldest son, Ziggy, makes sweet, singable reggae that translates well around a campfire. He’s the kind of artist a morning show like Canada AM will invite to perform, even if he’s singing about marijuana trees blowing in our breeze.
On his fifth studio album, Marley’s going funky and futuristic. Fly Rasta could mean a lot of things, and with the addition of subtle psychedelia you can literally imagine Ziggy floating through space. But the title track and So Many Rising (the Redemption Song of this album, say) highlight its main meaning: empowerment of the Rastafari movement.
As usual, the album is steeped in the power of love (not necessarily the romantic kind, though there’s that, too), and Ziggy is at his best when he’s politely but firmly political. Not as immediately pop-catchy as 2006’s Love Is My Religion or 2011’s Wild And Free, and there are some lyrics that only a Marley could pull off (“I don’t wanna live on Mars / I don’t wanna drive space cars / I just wanna be with you”), but new sounds like sitar and taiko drums add interest without changing Ziggy’s signature groove.
Top track: So Many Rising
Ziggy Marley plays David Pecaut Square as part of Luminato on June 14.