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SOJA - Amid the Noise and Haste

SOJA - Amid the Noise and Haste

SOJA - Amid the Noise and Haste

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SOJA moves into new territory  

Sampler

SOJA, the eight-man Washington, DC-based band is back in the reggae spotlight with their sixth full-length effort, Amid the Noise and Haste, from ATO with producer Supa Dubs. Thirteen songs give any listener a full sense of the band’s current mission and direction.

SOJA established valid reggae credibility and a solid fan base with Get Wiser (2006), the superb Born in Babylon (2009) and Strength to Survive (2012). Both were commitments to reggae, however in this new work frontman-writer Jacob Hemphill and Supra Dubs (who cut his chops with Bruno Mars and Drake) have taken Amid the Noise and Haste into an more mainstream sound in search of a wider audience.

soja amidSOJA is flexing its muscles, and the reliance on reggae seems to have been subdued by the band’s desire to achieve a more full-bore rock/pop sound—with mega production numbers that were just not part of their previous albums. Listen to the rap number Promises and Pills or the pop-rock tune Signature for examples.

There is much good to be said about SOJA’s latest. Damian Marley is here, so is Collie Buddz, as are Anuhea and J. Boog, the latter two direct from Hawai’i. Hemphill has always has written gorgeous melodies and that talent is better than ever in Tear It Down and Once Upon a Time, to name only two. The band has positivity galore. (I Believe has a stand-alone, sweet video.) The band is tight throughout, and the production values are clear and clean.

Some reggae fans will ask: Is SOJA falling into the trap of much of American reggae (think John Brown’s Body or Rebelution) and morphing into a band that is simply reggae-ish?  

Born in Babylon and Get Wiser may not have been Heart of the Congos, but both embraced reggae fully and I loved SOJA for that. With Amid the Noise and Haste, SOJA seems to be casting its line for an audience who believes that bigger production means better music. Let’s see how this works out for the band. I am rooting for them, but Amid the Noise and Haste is a step back from reggae.

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