Ziggy Marley is a global music royal with a deep Rolodex. His latest is a children’s album that, like his 2009 release Family Time, is full of famous friends and very kind vibes and intentions. Marley says he wanted to reflect the spirit of his four-year-old son, Isaiah, and to help create the right Saturday-morning pajama jam vibe, he’s recruited his other children to appear on the album. The result is an ideal time filler for parents looking for something/anything to put on the stereo and get your kids shaking out the sillies between bouts of remote learning.
“Play With Sky” rolls along on a joyful ska bounce, with help from guitarist Ben Harper; Sheryl Crow adds vocals to the lustrous “Everywhere You Go,” a sunny ode to supportive community. Tom Morello and Busta Rhymes swing by for “Move Your Body,” a rousing tune that bounces by in a punky reggae double time, with some of the most generous shredding of Morello’s career. Alanis Morissette sings on “Please Excuse Me Thank You,” which lightly introduces kids to the idea of ethics by emphasizing politeness and kindness, and not just how special they all are.
Ziggy’s brother Stephen joins him on “Garden Song of Miracles,” lending the album’s prettiest melody to an ode to the beauty of nature, and the family dog, Romeo, barks along on “My Dog Romeo,” as Ziggy proudly and adorably introduces him: “Yo, that’s my dog!”
Ziggy’s children Judah, Gideon, and Abraham appear on the album-ending “Wonderful People,” the title of which recalls “Tomorrow People,” the 1988 hit that introduced Ziggy Marley to the world. The world is a much darker place now than it was in the late Eighties, but the Marley family’s cross-generational optimism is as strong as ever: “You can be anything you want,” he sings. “A president or an astronaut/A peacemaker for the human race/We make the world a better place.” That kind of torch-passing sweetness should make anyone smile.