Soja Born in Babylon

Soja Born in Babylon

Much of Soja's last LP, Get Wiser, sounded like an attempt to recreate a musical aesthetic and thematic arc from Jamaican roots reggae circa 1980. It was good but never strayed far from the root of the Jamaican sound. But with their 2008 EP, Stars and Stripes, the band embraced a spirit of experimentalism on remixes of older material and even played with a more dancehall/rock-oriented sound, pushing the boundaries of international reggae. Now with Born in Babylon, the band have balanced the scale and developed a trad/new roots hybrid that finds the SOJA sound at a new level of maturity. The album is told from the point of view of "Babylonians," who, like the Rastas of so many Jamaican reggae songs, are also fighting the Babylon system. The message-centred songs range in style from atmospheric numbers like the title track to easy skanking grooves such as "Losing My Mind," with a few riff-based, up-tempo tracks like "Don't Forget" inna Sean Bones' stylee. Born in Babylon sees Soja stretching their boundaries and enjoying the legroom. (DMV)