Album Review: Ky-Mani Marley - Maestro
by Larson Sutton
Ky-Mani Marley’s Maestro, the sixth studio set from the Jamaican-born reggae artist, and, yes, scion of the lion Bob, is a collection that showcases as much the conscious and conscience of the singer as it does the production bolstering his lyrical poetry. Over a dozen tracks, Marley glides between sojourns of love and high times to calls for action and messages of faith. It may sound like familiar territory that’s been mined in reggae before, but with the help of some friends and family, and a slew of masters behind the board, it plays as fresh and relevant.
From the light pop of All the Way, its climbing chorus sure to lodge itself firmly in the memory banks of summer 2015, to the darting synth and grand piano heightening the drama of Get High, Marley’s voice, jagged as coarse salt and relaxed behind the beat, works nimbly in and out of its firmly planted backing tracks. Brother Damian arrives on Keepers of the Light, sparking some sibling spiritual reassurance followed by Matisyahu and Gentleman’s guest spots on the chanting We Are, their voices of hope lending shades of global support to the cut’s slight reggaeton/world music vibe. While the bulk of the record is helmed by Marley and producer Jason Farmer (Third World, Morgan Heritage), Champagne Dreams, with it’s straight-to-the-dance-club grooves and sizzling drop-in from Kreesha Turner, carries the mark of Dawayne Ferguson’s magic.
There are splashes of Spanish and electric guitar and sprinkles of synth strings. There are love notes (not) coincidentally to cannabis (Mary Jane) and painful admissions of romance gone bad (Destructive Love Affair) and the games played in its pursuit (Rasmantic). Not beholden to hooks, though not adverse to them, Maestro is an album of missive and intent, of fate and fun that delves into diversity within a pop structure allowing it to be both accessible and thought-provoking. A noticeable mark of growth for Marley, Maestro is an endearing collaborative effort.
Ky-Mani Marley - Maestro
DIGITAL RELEASE / CD / VINYL [Konfrontation Muzic]
Release date: 06/30/2015
01. All The Way
02. Get High
03. Fancy Things
04. Love Over All
05. Keepers Of The Light feat. Damian Marley
06. We Are feat Matisyahu & Gentleman
07. Destructive Love Affair
09. Mary Jane
10. Champagne Dreams feat. Kreesha Turner
11. The Chant
12. Valley Of Death
13. Talk Radio*
15. When Music Hits You*
16. She Got Me*
17. I Believe*