International reggae superstars SOJA have returned with the release of their latest project: an EP recorded over the years, consisting of renditions of some of the band’s favorite songs and ones that have inspired them throughout the decades. Simply titled The Covers EP, the release covers legends like Bob Marley with “So Much Trouble In The World” and Peter Tosh’s “Stop That Train”. SOJA also explores alternative versions of The Fray’s “Trust Me” and Jimmy Eat World‘s “The Kill”.
The song choice for this album represents a wide range of music genres, expertly showing off different influences that have played such a vital role in forming this band… songs able to reach so many hearts and minds — mine very much included.
Starting things off like only the SOJA should, a fantastic rendition of Mr. Marley’s “So Much Trouble In The World” immediately stirs at the wounds we all have and makes a connection that is unmistakable for anyone living through the past few years. It speaks to how slow progress can move in any given society, considering how old the original version of this song is, yet we are still able to relate so intensely to the masterful lyrics created by a true legend.
SOJA lead singer Jacob Hemphill puts it, “Bob Marley is my idea of a perfect songwriter. Anyone can write a good song, but, as a writer, the hardest and most important thing to do is connect with people — let alone all people, everywhere. No matter who or where you are on this earth; no matter what race, sex, age, orientation, economic status; you feel as if he was talking to you. The words he spoke carried further than any musician the world has seen; I’ve been all over the world and his face is always there. Everywhere. His audience is the human race. When he says that men are sailing on their ego trips and that they’re a million miles away from reality, and that they literally couldn’t care less than they do currently about the human race, and those are our leaders — all of us listen. And, the perfect part is that he was always right. This is Bob Marley and this song reminds us that there is something wrong. This is So Much Trouble.”
After such a powerful opening song, the band turns their focus more towards personal relationships in their version of “Trust Me” by The Fray.
With it, Jacob traverses his relationship with his father and how he was such an integral figure when it came to exposing his son to music. He taught him how to play and write, planting and watering the seed that would grow to share its wealth of knowledge and wisdom with generations that followed. “My dad loved music,” says Hemphill. “He taught me how to play on his piano, which now sits in my living room. He taught me how to read, write and breathe music, sitting right there. Later in life, I heard this song. It sounded like a dad trying — not to tell, not to explain — but SHOW his son something that was beautiful, that he should look out for, something invaluable in this place we live. We’re only taking turns holding this world. I loved this song for that feeling… like we’re lucky for this chance to pass something on.” We all should take advantage of that chance, for it won’t last forever.
Finishing things off on The Covers EP is an absolutely beautifully-done take on Jimmy Eat World’s 2004 track “Kill”. The track spends time contemplating the extent of what it takes to be gone on the road all the time — away from home, friends and family. Only to be completely unable to walk away from a dream that won’t stop calling you, no matter the pain it causes when the goodbyes are done. As someone who has moved around from state to state a few times myself, I am fully aware of how the idea of chasing a dream is truly difficult to let go. Jacob explains, “We spend all of our lives on the road in SOJA. We’re so close to so many, but so far from home. Family. Childhood. On our first real band drive from Virginia to California, I was getting lonely… I played this old song I had and always loved, but it felt like I finally understood it. I always thought it was a song about love, like relationship love. But, then I heard it: ‘Well you’re just across the street… looks a mile to my feet… I wish I’d go to you… I can’t help it, this is who I am’. Like in a dream. The wanderers. The searchers. The ones who leave home, no matter the pain, in search of something. It felt like he was saying that what we were doing was okay. More than okay. In search of our destinies. In search of love.”
Following destiny in search of love… I couldn’t think of a more noble cause to explore this world sharing your art and vision! The Covers EP is available now. One last note from the band: “We hope you guys enjoy listening to these, as much as we did to the originals. Stay safe.”
Purchase or stream ‘The Covers EP’:
- So Much Trouble In The World
- Trust Me
- Don’t Dream It’s Over
- Nothing Compares 2 U
- Pressure Drop
- Stop That Train
SOJA – “Kill” (Jimmy Eat World Cover)
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.