Ziggy Marley has switched directions for his third solo album, Family Time, but then again, not really. First off, it's a children's album, and a delightful one, and while he has always been an advocate for children's rights (he is the founder of U.R.G.E., a nonprofit organization that supports charitable children's causes in Jamaica, Ethiopia, and other parts of the world) and has contributed both his voice and songs to various children's programming, this is the first time Marley has done a full children's album. That said, the bright Jamaican rhythms and joyous vocals on display here aren't any different than what he has been doing all along, and children's songs or not, this is a wonderful roots release and is far from age-specific. Co-produced by Marley and Don Was, Family Time has a host of guest stars, including Rita Marley (Ziggy's mother), Cedella Marley (his sister), Judah Marley (his daughter), Paul Simon, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Toots Hibbert (of Toots & the Maytals), Elizabeth Mitchell, Laurie Berkner, and Paula Fuga, and the album closes with two stories narrated by Jamie Lee Curtis, but even so, this is Marley's show, and his warm vocals make everything else possible. Highlights include the impressive "Cry, Cry, Cry," a fun re-imaging of "This Train," and an it-just-makes-you-smile version of the island traditional "Hold Him Joe," but all of the songs have a like sort of sunny charm. The two stories narrated by Curtis that close things kind of break the musical mood a bit, but that's a minor complaint for an album that is so much fun, so positive, and just so darn delightful.
Family Time Review
by Steve Leggett