Music writers – myself included – usually like to label an artist to a specific genre. This is however a difficult task for German singer and songwriter Patrice and his new album The Rising of the Son. This set is far from cohesive and mixes a variety of different genres, some more bass heavy than others.
Patrice has described the album as a rebirth. And it certainly is. It doesn’t sound anything like his previously roots reggae oriented efforts. With The Rising of the Son he embarks on a new journey.
Patrice’s captivating voice and singing style owes quite a lot to Bob Marley. He often has the same intonation and phrasing. The music is nowadays far from this reggae icon.
On the lead single Cry Cry he forays into rebellious punky reggae heavily inspired by The Clash, while One Day, which features Jamaican super producer Don Corleon, boasts a pulsating Sly & Robbie groove. 1 in 7 is Eastern European flavoured ska and God Bless You La La La, with Cody Chesnutt singing the chorus, is more or less straight up rock.
The Rising of the Son sounds like a major label release. Most of the radio friendly tracks have serious hit potential and will probably appeal to fans of Jason Mraz and Bruno Mars, although this is a little edgier.
U.S. reggae band SOJA’s front man and lead singer Jacob Hemphill struggles to save the world. He packages his music in a neat and sweet wrapping paper, but the inside is sour since the lyrics often deal with tough issues such as the environment and the many problems the human race is facing.
As the son of a former IMF representative he has politics and economics in his blood, and when he and his family lived in Liberia in the 80’s he experienced war on first-hand basis, an experience that has shaped him as a person.
SOJA with lead singer Jacob Hemphill in the middle.
SOJA’s latest album is called Strength to Survive and was released in January in the U.S. and in October in the rest of the world. It was produced together with mainstream pop producer John Alegia, who has previously worked with Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer and Jason Mraz.
Compared to previous SOJA albums this one is the most pop influenced yet, even though they have had the same formula from the scratch.
I got a chat with Jacob Hemphill when the band was on a European tour and we talked about politics, Strength to Survive and why oil is the greatest threat to mankind. Check the full story over at United Reggae.
Seven piece U.S. reggae band SOJA’s fourth album Strength to Survive was released in January this year, but has recently got a European release courtesy of VP Records with no less than six bonus tracks – four acoustic versions and two new versions of Everything Changes, one with French singer Balik from Danakil and one with German singjay Gentleman.
SOJA was formed in 1997 and dropped their debut album three years later. Singer, guitarist and front man Jacob Hemphill has since the beginning of the band’s endeavors strived to write serious lyrics with messages of unity, universal love and the many challenges the human race faces.
As the son of a former IMF employee Jacob Hemphill has probably learnt a thing or two about politics and economics, and now he’s on a mission to save humanity and this planet with music and lyrics rather than policies and legislative initiatives.
On Strength to Survive SOJA has together with producer John Alagia – responsible for several albums with Dave Matthews Band – managed to put a glossy wrap around the somber lyrics consisting of beautiful, bright and melancholic melodies and memorable hooks.
Jacob Hemphill is a talented songwriter with a singing style sometimes reminiscent of Bob Marley, nowadays minus the patois accent. His nasal singing, sometimes bedroom-like whispering, flows nicely over the easy skanking reggae grooves comparable to artists such as Bruno Mars or Jason Mraz.
Over the years SOJA have built-up a diehard fan base and have headlined large theaters in more than 15 countries around the world. Certainly an impressive accomplishment for a band that sings about saving the environment and their hopes about the world coming together as one.
I have a hunch that Jacob Hemphill’s pretty boy looks and charisma might be the secret ingredient in the SOJA formula for success apart from them being able to write pop songs with a message.