'SOJA' Looks Back on Their Roots with 'Poetry in Motion'

Brooke Nicholson | Arts & Entertainment Editor

One of the best known reggae groups out there, Soldiers of Jah Army, or better known as SOJA, have 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 Jo Boog. Now, after twenty 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 October 27th, “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 early albums, leaning more towards the original sounds that reggae has to offer. They 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 with 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. Jacob Hemphills’ voice, the lead singer, 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”, words of encouragement towards making a better future for yourself and everyone else. Halfway through the album, Jacob looks at more of the wicked side of humanity, “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 humanity to think about the actions they choose to do and how society has tricked them into never feeling happy with the things they currently have in the fourth song on the album, ‘More’. 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.

The group has no future 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.