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Strength To Survive

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Album Review

Over the course of nearly 15 years, SOJA (aka Soldiers of Jah Army) have been quietly turning into one of the most solid and accomplished reggae bands in the U.S. Despite an undeniably powerful instrumental sound, their progress was slowed early on by bandleader Jacob Hemphill's vocal affectations, which explicitly evoked Bob Marley and made him sound both annoying and somewhat ridiculous. Over time those tendencies have faded somewhat, and Hemphill has started to come into his own as a singer. His voice is still thin and weedy (he sounds more like Apple Gabriel than Bob Marley these days), but the fake Jamaican accent is less pronounced and his phrasing and delivery have matured. So has his ability to write hooks, and it's the quality of the songs on Strength to Survive (more than the singing of them) that makes this such a powerful album. "Gone Today," "Everything Changes," the slow and smoky groove of "It's Not Too Late" — these are songs that anyone would be proud to have written, and the band's tough, tensile groove has only gotten stronger over the years. Missteps? Yes: the two non-reggae acoustic numbers at the end of the program (one of them a misbegotten version of "Gone Today") expose all the worst things about Hemphill's vocal style, and neither of them is especially compelling in this stripped-down and groove-free format. Skip those last two numbers, though, and you've got one of the best American reggae albums of the year.

Customer Reviews

Best Album

I wish this album could be put on repeat for all humans to hear. Soja's music is a message of love, hope and faith for today's world. It's feel good music that has a way of changing people's souls. Please enjoy and share! Jah bless.

Buy it and love it!

Fantastic album! You will get lured in by the beats and the song composition, but the power is in the lyrics that are soulful and a call to action on life, love, and the world we live in. Only thing better is to hear this album on wax or live!

They may be one of the best bands that is undiscovered by the masses. Buy it, love it and bump it!




Formed: 1997 in Arlington, VA

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '00s, '10s

SOJA are an eight-piece reggae group hailing from Arlington, Virginia. Formed in 1997 by high-school friends and musicians who regularly gigged around the area, the Soldiers made their recorded debut in 2000 with the SOJA EP. Their debut album, Peace in a Time of War, followed in 2002 while its dub version, Dub in a Time of War, appeared in 2004. Get Wiser arrived in 2006 and was premiered back home with the album being played live in total, a concert that was captured on that year's DVD release...
Full Bio
Strength To Survive, SOJA
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Customer Ratings