Review Summary: Excuse me while I light my spliff.
Bob Marley spent most of his life as a militant. He preached the way of the Rasta Man, love for all mankind and trying to get the descendants of Africa to rise up and give no quarter against the people that had abused them for the past two hundred years. But even militants have to spend some time resting. Ché Guvera spent several months touring on a motorcycle, Mao Zedong swam across the Yellow River, and Bob Marley released Kaya.
Kaya is dedicated to Marley's other love, that of the herb. Kaya is an easy album to listen to and an even easier album to absorb. Compared to the powerful messages pushed in earlier works such as Exodus, Kaya's songs are about more simpler things, such as smoking ganja in 'Easy Skanking' or love songs such as 'Is This Love?'. But what Marley puts his mind too, he pulls off with expert precision.
From its opening moments, it is clear that Kaya is in no rush to do anything. The album has this relaxed feel to it and the music sounds soft and calm. Bob's guitar work is mellow and works well with the keyboards provided by Tyrone Downie. The vocals also lock together well with the voice of Marley contrasting nicely with the singing of the I Threes. But very important to this album, as with all of Marley's work, is the rhythm section. Which is provided by Carlton and Aston Barrett.
The brothers provide an incredibly tight rhythm which had been developed over a lifetime of playing together. This backing section is paramount to the reggae sound, with the drums of Carlton Barrett being held as legend. His one drop technique is excellent and it formed the basis of reggae music worldwide. His brother Aston provides a warm and friendly bass section which works wonders with Bob's guitar work. Together the pair form an indestructible barrier and work together perfectly.
This album has a specific type of style and a peculiar mood. You can't enjoy Kaya if you are not in the proper mindset, Kaya has large comfortable hands which it wants to place on your shoulders and rub gently after a hard day at work. Kaya wants you to follow in the footsteps of Marley and light that spliff.
That might be the only thing wrong with Kaya, its relaxed mood isn't for everyone and the music tends to merge together as it rolls on. The last few tracks sound a little bit like the first ones so the album gets across as a little bit repetitive. The best tracks are located on the front half. With the pious love song 'Is This Love?,' which talks about sharing a single bed with the woman you love, because you don't need anything but them in your life, taking the prize for best song on the album.
As stated earlier, Kaya is light on lyrical content, there is nothing stressful here and compared to Bob's other albums, the music is rather 'soft' due to the lack of an overall serious message. But his vocals, along with that of the I Threes, work excellently with this kind of music. The album's tone is best stated in the song 'Satisfy my Soul' and goes like:
“Please don't you rock my boat,
'Cause I don't, want my boat, to be rockin'”
Kaya will leave you relaxed upon it's completion and it may even be hard to turn the album off, it is simply that easy to listen too. It might not be Bob's most brilliant album when compared to Exodus, and Kaya is only lightly covered on the best of album; Legend. But it provides an excellent insight into a man who was never angry and always seemed to have a smile on his face. Bob Marley wants you to light that spliff and enjoy yourself.
Author's Note: The writer of this review does not condone marijuna consumption in anyway, shape or form. Marijuna is an illegal drug and listening to Bob Marley is no excuse to consume it.