Earlier this week Sway Jah Vu released its new EP In The Company of Wolves. The second offering from the Florida-based alt-reggae act, it is a recording that anyone weary of reggae’s monotony will welcome with arms wide open. That is because over the course of the record’s five songs and twenty-six minutes the band presents a sound that is decidedly unlike the standard reggae offering. That is obvious right off the top in the EP’s opener ‘People’ with its rock riffs and sax line. The disc’s title track stands out just as much as an example of what makes this EP and the band stand out in the reggae field as does the EP’s penultimate piece ‘Hold On Me.’ All three songs show in their own way what makes this EP and six-man reggae outfit stand out from their respective counterparts. Together with the disc’s two more directly reggae-infused songs In The Company of Wolves shows in whole to be a reggae recording of an entirely different kind; one that every reggae fan should hear.
Sway Jah Vu’s new EP In The Company of Wolves is a reggae record of an entirely different kind. In a field that is overloaded with cookie cutter acts all emulating Bob Marley and the Whalers it is a piece that shows it is actually possible for reggae to be something more than what it was in its earliest days. It shows that reggae can be something more, something that can actually reach new audiences and even new respect. This is clear in the album’s opener ‘People.’ While this song does boast some reggae influences, it boasts just as much rock influence as reggae. That rock influence is exhibited in the song’s chorus. What’s really interesting about the song’s rock influence is that to this critic at least the influence in question boasts something of a Jimi Hendrix sort of sound. Even more interesting is that the two elements stand entirely separate from one another over the course of the song’s five minute-plus run time. This is important to note because it serves to help illustrate the emotion in the song’s lyrical message. Speaking of that lyrical message, it is just as important to the song as the song’s musical arrangement. Whereas the song’s musical arrangement stands out as being more than just reggae, its lyrical content is more clear cut. Vocalist/guitarist Travis Cockerham sings about equality and human rights in this song. He sings, “People need to recognize people/Look into each other’s eyes and realize we’re equal/’Cause everyone’s out tryin’ to do the same thing/Everybody deserves the same chance/People need to love one another/There’s love for my sisters and love for my brothers/’Cause everyone’s out tryin’ to do the same thing/If we don’t come together/Then it’s never gonna change.” Cockerham continues in similar fashion through the songs’ remaining verses reminding listeners at one point that when people point at others, passing the blame there are always three fingers pointing back at the one passing blame. The vibe is much the same through the remainder of the song. The mix of that positive message and the song’s dual musical arrangement makes this song a solid opener for the band’s new EP and an equally important example of what makes the EP in whole stand out from so many other reggae offerings so far this year. It’s just one example of what makes the record stand out, too. The disc’s title track exemplifies this just as much.
‘People’ is a solid starter for Sway Jah Vu’s new EP In The Company Of Wolves. It also serves to help the record and band stand out from their respective reggae counterparts so far this year. That is thanks to the song’s hybrid musical arrangement and its positive lyrical message. It is just one example of what makes the band and EP stand out, too. The disc’s title track does its own part to establish the EP’s identity and that of the band. Whereas the EP’s opener boasted both rock and reggae influences, this song is infused more with a rock sound than reggae. To be more precise that sound is more of a radio friendly, mainstream rock sound than reggae or even anything heavier in the rock realm. Comparing it to any of the record’s other offerings it could be argued to be the song that breaks the band into the mainstream if only for its musical content. The song’s musical content is just one part of what makes it stand out. Its lyrical content stands out just as much. It really leaves itself to interpretation thanks to Cockerham’s reserved delivery and its thought provoking wording. That it leaves itself so up to interpretation actually is a good thing. That is because when set against the song’s more rock-oriented musical content the two elements together make the song stand out even more; so much so that it is deserving of support from any mainstream rock radio station across the country. Even as much as it stands out it still is not the last remaining example of what makes Sway Jah Vu’s new EP stand out. ‘Hold On Me,’ the disc’s penultimate presentation is just as notable as the disc’s title track and its opener.
‘People’ and ‘In The Company of Wolves’ are both key compositions included in Sway Jah Vu’s new EP. Both songs show in their own way what makes this record stand out. While both songs are equally notable in their own right they are not the only songs that serve to make this latest offering from the Florida-based alt-reggae band stand out as well as the band itself. ‘Hold On Me’ is just as notable as those songs. As with the EP’s other noted songs, this song’s musical arrangement lies at its heart. In regards to its musical arrangement it stands out because it is neither reggae nor rock-infused. Rather it is a very reserved bluesy style piece that lets the whole band truly shine. It conjures thoughts of a smoky jazz nightclub thanks to that sound. It’s just one part of what makes the song stand out. The song’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical arrangement. At first the song comes across, lyrically, as just another piece about a breakup. But then as the song progresses it paints a different picture with Cockerham singing about the girl, “I wrote this song to make her heart race/Can’t wait to see the look on her face/Cause she’s got a hold on me/She’s literally hugging me/I never want to let her go/That’s why I gotta let her know/That when she’s hugging me/I can feel myself melting/I never wanna let her go/That’s why I gotta let her know.” Cockerham continues on in similar fashion as the song progresses as do his band mates with their positive musical vibe. The combination of Cockerham’s positive lyrical content and the band’s own impressive talents throughout the song shows even more why this song stands out. When set against ‘People,’ ‘In The Company of Wolves,’ and the disc’s other two more reggae-infused songs, all five songs work together to display In The Company of Wolves as a record that is anything but another standard reggae record. It is a reggae record of a completely different kind and that every reggae fan should hear.
Sway Jah Vu’s new EP In The Company Of Wolves is a record in which other reggae acts should want to find their own records. That is because while it is only the band’s second record (and an EP no less) it is still a record that is unlike any other reggae offering out there so far this year. It does have its reggae influences. But it also boasts jazz, blues, and rock influences as is displayed throughout the course of the record’s twenty-six minutes. The combination of those influences and the band’s reggae influences makes this record one that everyone should hear. It is available now and can be ordered online via Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play. The band is currently touring in support of its new EP. It will be in Tallahassee, Florida Friday, April 1st and Fort Walton Beach, FL on April 2nd. There are also dates scheduled for April 9th, 15th, and 16th. The band’s current tour schedule is available online now along with more information on the band’s new EP and all of the band’s latest news at:
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