Born In Babylon
DMV Records
September 6, 2009

SOJA - Born In Babylon (Bonus Track Version) Track list
  1. Born In Babylon
  2. Losing My Mind
  3. Used To Matter
  4. Bleed Through feat. Black Boo Of Mambo Sauce
  5. You And Me feat. Chris Boomer
  6. Don't Forget
  7. Decide You're Gone
  8. I Don't Wanna Wait
  9. I Tried feat. Gentleman And Tamika
  10. Never Ever
  11. Waking Up
  12. Summer Breeze
  13. Thunderstorms
  14. Here I Am feat. Marley, Rory And Eric Of Rebelution
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 3/4 Backing : 3/4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
Washington D.C. based reggae band SOJA aka Soldiers Of Jah Army has released their third full-length album "Born In Babylon". The album follows up their 2006 release "Get Wiser", which debuted in the Top 10 Reggae albums on iTunes, and has remained in the top 100 since its release. Since 2000, the quintet has issued two full-length albums and two EPs on their label DMV Records.

Originally formed in 1997, SOJA consists of lead singers, Jacob Hemphill (guitar) and Bob Jefferson (bass), as well as Patrick O'Shea on keyboard, percussionist Ken Brownell and drummer Ryan Berty. The band has become renowned for using a unique blend of reggae, hip-hop, and rock to influence their sound, while staying dedicated to creating music with a real message and promoting a revolution. They also consistently tour, averaging 150 shows a year visiting every major city in the United States. They have even built up an international base playing to crowds of as many as 16,000. The band has also shared the stage with notable artists such as Citizen Cope, Matisyahu, Ben Harper, Slightly Stoopid, Damian Marley, Govt Mule, Umphrey's McGee, and Steel Pulse to name a few.

SOJA shares about their new album, "This is the album we've wanted to make for ten years. At first we were hard-core old skool, then we got new skool and inventive. This is what we've learned from all that. 'Born in Babylon' is hard roots drum and bass, big wide guitar and vocal melodies, and two and three sided lyrics, with two and three sided messages."

After spinning the album several times three things became quite obvious. The integrity of the band is beyond doubt. They take reggae, their music and their listener very seriously, it's a band with a message and they want to share it with the world. Unlike a lot of US based reggae bands they don't want to create a non-essential mix of rock and reggae, reggae with 'screaming' guitars and 'plastic' synthesizers, but they are looking for ways how to integrate other music styles in their own reggae music. Thunderstorms is a good example. It's not a reggae tune, more a blues song with a strong feeling and message. More or less the same goes for the title track Born In Babylon. We think there are too little outstanding tracks on the album. Most of the self penned tunes fail to make a long lasting impression.
Noteworthy tracks are Losing My Mind, a tight and emotional song. You And Me a subtle reggae tune with a violin solo, excellent tune! Don't Forget makes a good impression as well, although it tends to be overproduced. Decide You're Gone is a good and smooth traditional reggae tune, while Summer Breeze is a 'simple' and catchy tune.

Lead vocalist Joseph Hemphill's vocal delivery is okay, but not overwhelming. The band provides a decent backing, the excellent guest horns were recorded in Puerto Rico. The album was recorded and mixed by the well known producer/engineer Jim Fox at his Fox Recording Studios.