The release of Strength to Survive in 2012 left the eight piece Arlington, Virginia natives on the cusps of worldwide acceptance and created a very loyal and devoted fanbase. SOJA has since then paved a very long and successful road to their sixth and latest studio album titled Amid The Noise And Haste. For the past 17 years, SOJA has been immensely successful at blurring the lines between rock and reggae. Lead by frontman Jacob Hemphill, SOJA’s sound consists of jazz inspired horns, stout reggae and Latin rhythmics coupled with soulful, harmonized vocals. This combined formula has rightly gained SOJA international notoriety, headlining at more than 20 countries around the world.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.”
– Max Ehrmann
Although with the success of their previous releases, Amid The Noise And Haste received a handful of skepticism throughout social media questioning their direction long before release day for the album. In all honesty, there were fears from this reviewer as well, however those fears were all laid to rest once Top Shelf Reggae received the advanced copy of Amid The Noise And Haste weeks before the official release date of August 12, 2014.
The album is quite reminiscent of prior SOJA albums, utilizing the familiar reggae undertones coupled with Jacob’s uplifting and soulful lyrics. What is quite impressive about this album are the amount of guest appearances from people like Collie Buddz, J Boog, Anuhea, Nahko, Damian Marley, Micheal Franti, and Alfred the MC — not to mention the heavy hitting creative minds behind the soundboards, making Amid the Noise And Haste an all-star collaboration performance from every angle. Understandably, with the abundance of “cooks in the kitchen” there will always be concerns about the overall intensity and focus of the final outcome, however with this album, the focus does not get blurred.
As usual, there are a few tracks that truly stand out. Opening track “Tear it Down” begins ominously with the strumming of the guitar as if to summon the drums and bassline to break ground. From there, the horns encroach to bring the vocals together and bind all instruments into a singular harmonious entity guided by Jacob’s lyrics. As a general rule of thumb, the opening track is definitely an important one, as it sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Tear it Down” does a great job at setting that tone, as it sits at the middle point of the album’s emotional spectrum.
The track “She Still Loves Me” which made it’s appearance in 2013 as a standalone single, weaves its way into your immediate attention almost instantaneously with the very recognizable voice of Collie Buddz. Collie has a special way of making any song, at the very least, 30% better. He is the bacon to your bland meal (not that this is a bland track). There is something about his voice that will perk up the ears and stop you from doing whatever you’re doing. “She Still Loves Me” on its own is very good, but add a bit of Collie to the mix and you’ve got yourself an impressive little number.
The tracks “Wait” and “Better” are truly symbolic of that classic SOJA sound that everyone yearns for. The graceful sweeping of the guitars, smooth Bobby basslines along with massive melodies capture the true essence and magic of SOJA, reminding us all how they soared straight to the top. These two tracks are very well structured, bearing deep layering of familiarity as well as bringing exciting newness to the table.
All told, Amid The Noise And Haste is a great addition to your SOJA library. The album takes strengths from previous albums and builds upon them, all while exploring new territories and ideas without straying too far to be distracting, at the same time exposing the rest of the world to the melodic spirit that characterizes SOJA.
Preview and download Amid The Noise And Haste from:
Amid The Noise And Haste track listing
- Tear It Down
- Your Song (feat. Damian Jr. Gong Marley)
- I Believe (feat. Michael Franti and Nahko)
- Easier (feat. Anuhea and J Boog)
- Shadow (feat. Trevor Young of SOJA)
- Once Upon A Time
- Promises And Pills (feat. Alfred The MC)
- She Still Loves Me (feat. Collie Buddz)
- Treading Water
- Lucid Dreams (feat. Nahko)
SOJA – I Believe (Official Video) ft. Michael Franti, Nahko
Editor’s note: Our advanced copy of Amid The Noise And Haste contained 13 tracks, while digital and physical copies available now will contain four extra tracks that we did not account for in the review.
Released April 12, 2014 • ATO Records
For more information on SOJA, please visit their website here.
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.