The members of SOJA set the bar very high for themselves with their Billboard topping 2012 endeavor, Strength to Survive. Their latest effort, Amid the Noise and Haste, demonstrates that SOJA has clearly become more inspired, creative, and melodically enthusiastic in the face of their pressured expectations.
Amid the Noise and Haste stays true to SOJA’s reggae roots while again displaying Jacob Hemphill’s knack for melody and ear engaging hooks. It doesn’t hurt to have an all-star collaborative team in place to help out along the way. Damian Marley, Michael Franti, Collie Buddz, Nahko, Anuhea, and a list of others contribute on the album that was produced by the Grammy winning Jamaican producer Supa Dups (Eminem, Bruno Mars).
It is hard to fathom a reggae band from Arlington, VA successfully collaborating on songs with Damian Marley and Michael Franti, given that Arlington’s biggest cultural contributions thus far have been hipster kickball bars and lines at Starbucks. SOJA pulls off this task with the musicianship, energy and ease that one would expect from an accomplished band. Their latest collaborations will keep current fans engaged and will capture the attention of a new and continuously diversifying fan base.
The album opens strong with the poppy yet consistent track, “Tear It Down,” but it’s the Damian Marley collaboration, “Your Song,” which sets the tone effectively and highlights the band’s theme of togetherness. Hemphill sings, “If you see me crying. If you see me alone. Just try to stay by me and keep singing along.” The following track, “I Believe,” a collaboration with Michael Franti and Nahko, is the soon to be radio friendly hit that will likely generate tremendous buzz.
Amid the Noise and Haste is a slight shift from SOJA’s early roots rock work, but collectively the album’s 17 tracks are consistently appealing and sincere. SOJA continues to grow musically with each subsequent effort and the band’s message remains clear. As Rolling Stone Magazine recently proclaimed, “Amid the Noise and Haste will likely win friends, influence people, and make this country a better place.” Here’s to that.