For some, music is a limitless language and communication tool unto itself, capable of surging forth the best soundtrack of your life at any given moment. Without it, there would be plenty more awkward silences and unspoken emotions tangled beneath the surface. For this reason, it has always been hard for me to truly answer the question “what’s your favorite type of music,” because the answer has always been ALL. Different moods require different orchestrations, and good or bad, it always has the ability to make life more beautiful.
But for the last few years, it’s been easier to hone in on one particular genre that is on my playlist more than most: singer/songwriters and folk artists. Ray LaMontagne, Van Morrison, Jackson Browne, Mumford & Sons, Neko Case, and more. Mostly, I think it’s because they cut to the core, they cut through the clutter, and they blindly dig in right to the heart of things. They skip the small talk and talk story through song, and for that I appreciate them most.
Surprisingly I just learned that the Arlington, Virginia-based band SOJA (formerly known as Soldiers of Jah Army), which I would have more broadly classified as reggae, views themselves as folk artists. Why? Because “it’s timeless, it’s limitless and it crosses all boundaries. That’s what this band is striving for.” And then it made more sense to me why they’ve been on repeat for me lately. Folk goes deeper than the surface. SOJA’s songs aren’t just about the beats and the rhythm. They’re about movement. Creating change. Light in darkness. They are raw and honest and stripped of ego. They sing about things that matter. From their website, their latest Strength To Survive album makes “an impassioned call for unity and change with universally relatable songs about faith, hope and love with one central theme: hope for the world to be one family.”
The band will be touring Hawaii in August, with various opening acts including JBoog, Anuhea and Michael Franti & Spearhead. Their new album Amid the Noise and the Haste is due to be released in August. If you can help it, don’t miss the show.