“This album is from my heart,” says Ziggy Marley of his second solo album, Love is My Religion (Tuff Gong Worldwide). Embracing both the spiritual and emotional side of life, Ziggy has definitively come into his own as an artist. The twelve-track album, released early July, showcases Ziggy’s tightly rolled talents as a songwriter (writing all cuts), musician (playing most of the instruments) and producer (shepherding all dozen tracks, with three co-produced by Grammy winner Ross Hogarth). The only thing more joyful than making it, says Ziggy, is the anticipation of the global tour he expects to kick off this summer.
Written “all over the world,” Love Is My Religion expands upon the personal, social and political themes explored in Ziggy’s debut CD, Dragonfly. Its musical center is clearly reggae, peppered by African percussion and other flavors. Opening with the subversively danceable “Into the Groove,” Ziggy delves into an upbeat meditation on finding one’s self. On the title track, “Love is My Religion,” his message is one that “people need to hear,” a unifying devotion to love that “needs to be preached in churches and mosque and synagogues.” The notion of overcoming stereotypes and superstition informs the slinky “Black Cat,” while the romantic “Make Some Music” finds a partner in the mid-tempo “A Lifetime.”
Friendship is one of the album’s recurring themes, whether as the core of monogamous love or the connective tissue of global brotherhood. “Friend” and “On the Beach in Hawaii” each offer an ode to love. In “Keep on Dreamin’,” Ziggy extends the idea into the spiritual world, reconnecting with his father through dreams. The album’s most political song, “Be Free,” implores the listener to reject the manipulating power of fear. Slavery and its continuing effects are explored on “Still the Storms,” which laments the crises in nations like Sudan, Rwanda and Sierra Leone by analogizing the path of hurricanes with the path of slave ships. The album closes with the simple and the complex: an acoustic guitar version of “Love Is My Religion” and a bass-heavy, trip-hop mix of “Be Free.”
After two decades as the driving creative force behind The Melody Makers – a triple Grammy winning act, Ziggy released his debut solo album in 2003, Dragonfly, which featured such guest artists as Flea and John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Mike Einziger and DJ Kilmore (Incubus). He has contributed to a variety of soundtracks including 50 First Dates and Shark’s Tale, in which he delved into acting for the first time, playing the character of Bernie, the Jamaican jellyfish.
In addition to his musical skills, Ziggy founded U.R.G.E. (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a non-profit organization that benefits a wide range of charitable children’s causes in Jamaica, Ethiopia and other developing nations. More recently he has thrown his support behind the Youth AIDS campaign.