SOJA looks back on their roots with 'Poetry in Motion'
Brooke Nicholson | Assitant A&E Editor
One of the best-known reggae groups out there, Soldiers of Jah Army, or better known as SOJA, has continuously revolutionized the music of reggae. Originating from Arlington, VA, the group of eight grew up in the same area as friends teaching themselves how to play roots reggae.
Over the years, they’ve racked up a large fanbase of reggae fans, with over 300 million views on YouTube, headlining concerts around the world and have a huge online presence with over seven million fans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Recently, the group has toured larger part of Virginia, resulting in the album “Live in Virginia,” and has worked with a number of other reggae artists, such as Collie Buddz, Damien Marley and J Boog.
Now, 20 years later, seven released albums and two Grammy nominations, SOJA has decided to look back at their original sound from one of their earliest albums, “Born in Babylon,” resulting in their eighth studio album on Oct. 27, “Poetry in Motion.”
Since the success of their seventh studio album, “Amid the Noise and Haste” back in 2014, the group decided that their next album would give listeners a throwback to one of their most popular albums, leaning more towards the original sounds that reggae has to offer.
SOJA went back to the Dave Matthews Bands’ studio, Haunted Hollows Studios, located in Charlottesville, VA, to work on a sound that would spark familiarity to long-time SOJA fans. The band produced “Poetry in Motion.” The eleven track album focuses on modern moral issues plaguing nations across the world, while blending with traditional values and messages of peace, hoping to give people a positive, uplifting feeling.
“Poetry in Motion” opens up with the song “Moving Stones,” a slow, rhythmic strum of guitar strings, followed by that all too familiar reggae beat of horns and the saxophone. Lead singer Jacob Hemphill’s voice follows soon behind the beginning instrumental, singing, “You say there’s got to be a better way, but I see you’re staying in the same old groove.” The band uses these words of encouragement towards making a better future for yourself and everyone else.
Halfway through the album, Hemphill looks at more of the wicked side of humanity on the track “More,” “You see the family as little as two or three so/You treat the rest as if they aren’t even people/You trust the government, plus you trust the steeple/Get on your knees because nothing is equal.” SOJA pleads with society to think about the actions they choose to do, and how it has tricked them into never feeling happy with the things they currently have.
The lyrics throughout the album are meant to show humanity the consequences of their chosen actions through their music, in hopes that if they are shown the questions, they can go hopefully find the courage to go out and find solutions to benefit the future.
SOJA has no plans of stopping. After performing for the Heal Charlottesville Benefit concert late October, they have currently been touring most of Brasil, Argentina and Mexico until they return to the United States next year.
“Poetry in Motion” has currently reached number one on iTunes reggae charts.