Music » Critics' Picks

Ziggy Marley

Tuesday, August 5; Mississippi Nights


At the age of ten, he began to sit in on Bob Marley and the Wailers' Island sessions, learning the rudiments of rhythm and Rastafari from the high masters, and after nearly twenty years of leading his siblings in the Melody Makers, Ziggy Marley has decided to take a side road alone. Even the scenery's changed. Having left Jamaica to record his first solo effort, Dragonfly, in Miami and L.A., Marley the Younger has taken the best elements of getting outside of one's element and crafted an album that recalls pop's most soulful moments. "True to Myself," the full-length's first single, sits somewhere between the slack-ass syncopation of the Meters, the cock strut of '80s-era Rolling Stones and the too-sweet, soul-drenched rock steady of the earliest Wailers recordings. It's feel-good music at its best -- like Quincy Jones circa Sanford & Son -- and there's a good chance that you'll smile and move when the song begins jiggling your speaker cones with its righteous declarations of loyalty to the self.

Yeah, his voice sounds a lot like Bob's, but Ziggy's taken his inherited gifts a giant step further, like a fully realized version of his father that we never got to hear. He's learned a few tricks that Marley the Elder didn't get the chance to slip into his sleeve, and the distillate portrays nothing less than a son stepping out of his father's shadow, simultaneously aware of and free from his legacy. Remember when Los Lobos crossed over into the rump-stomping of Big Head, and how good it was? If Papa's not proud, he should be.

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