CD Review: Born in Babylon

SOJA�s Third Album Delivers Solid Work

Melissa Kucirek

Washington, DC-bred reggae rock band, SOJA, third release Born in Babylon is a positive collection of emotive lyrics and multi-faceted songs.

Immediately into the first song of Born in Babylon, it�s evident that the musicianship and art form from SOJA is beyond the run-of-the-mill reggae sound. SOJA takes reggae�s foundation � of solid percussion and cadence�and transforms its sound to a collection of American-rock sounding pieces.

SOJA is a band with a strong foundation of friendship and artists; as a listener it�s obvious to hear that the tightness of this band is toned and still evolving. At times lyrics on the album can be simplistic, but as in a pop song, they become catchy. Each song is a celebration.

The title track, which also happens to be the first song, is at first long-winded. An inner-struggle is perceived through the lyrics, and the chance to overcome. But saving this world just comes with a cost�notes the Jacob Hemphill-penned lyrics.

Band's Roots

Hemphill shares vocals (and plays guitar) with childhood friend, Bob Jefferson (bass). The two remained friends, and then throughout middle school and their high school years, they teamed up with Patrick O�Shea (keyboards), Ryan Berty (drums) and Ken Brownell (percussion).

Following its first effort Soldiers of Jah Army EP in 2000, the band established itself as credible artists in the reggae community. Produced by Jim Fox, what made the album so important was that Fox had not planned to work with American artists.