Reggae act Sowflo released its sophomore album New Shoes last Friday. The record, released through Space Duck Records, is a positive new effort from the Florida-based band. The 10-song record will appeal to fans of similar acts, such as Dirty Heads, 311 and Sublime. ‘Morning Thunder,’ is one of the record’s most notable entries. It will be addressed shortly. ‘Armagideon,’ which immediately follows ‘Morning Thunder,’ is another work that serves to support the statements noted here. It will be addressed a little later. ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ is yet another example of what makes New Shoes an overall success for Sowflo. When they are considered alongside other songs featured in the album, such as ‘Hitchiker,’ ‘Amalia’ and ‘Farmer in Suburbia,’ the end result is a record that will appeal to any reggae fan.
Sowflo’s newly released sophomore album New Shoes is a positive new offering from the Florida-based band that is certain to be a favorite among reggae purists. That is proven in part through one of the album’s late entries, ‘Morning Thunder.’ This song stands out because it is one of the songs featured in the record that is anything but another un-of-the-mill reggae composition. Rather, it actually boasts a rather poppy arrangement that still incorporates those familiar roots reggae influences for a whole that is a very radio-friendly work. The song’s arrangement is just one part of what makes it stand out. The commentary that is clearly featured in the song’s lyrical content adds to its interest.
Front man Jacob Dorris sings in the song’s lead verse, “I believe that people are waking up/Sleeping long enough/the spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder/Finally awake from my slumber/To the spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “I pulled these shades up off my eyes/And find out what they’ve been selling us/Is not as they advertise/If like me/You feel like we’ve been dreaming most our lives/It’s time to rise and shine/I’ve seen the lightning strike/I’ve heard the thunder in the hills/Don’t try and tell me/It’s not raining still/When I’ve seen the lightning strike/And heard the thunder in the hills/Don’t try and tell me/It’s not raining still/I believe the people are waking up/Sleeping long enough/The spell we are under/I woke up to the morning thunder/Finally awake from my slumber/To the spell we are under.” The song’s final verse follows in similar fashion as he sings about people realizing the reality of the violence around us, noting “the blood in the street.” There is little doubt about the commentary here. Dorris is addressing the reality of the world. He is saying that he sees people are becoming more aware of what is going on and actually doing something about it. The positive vibes of the song’s musical arrangement creates a feeling of pleasure from Dorris; a sense that he is happy people are finally taking off those proverbial blinders and trying to make a change. It is a protest song, of sorts, yet is also so much more laid back than the typical protest song. It is just one of the most notable of the album’s songs. ‘Armagideon,’ which immediately follows, is another of the record’s most notable works.
‘Armagideon’ stands out in part because instead of reaching for the standard reggae sound, opts instead for a more pop punk type of arrangement. That is not to say the reggae roots are not there. The horns are there, as in each of the album’s other entries. But this work is decidedly a move in a very different direction for Sowflo in this record, and a welcome change of pace, too. One could almost argue that the use of the horns and the more pop punk vibe of the arrangement creates a comparison to the likes of Reel Big Fish. That fun, upbeat musical air gives plenty in itself to appreciate in this case. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out. The song’s lyrical content offers its own interest for listeners.
Dorris sings in the song’s lead verse, “I feel that/I just felt the earth move/Precursor to what could only be/Armagedion/That’s what they’re calling it on the street/Headline sales up a hundred fold/Since the information leaked/And that was the day.” He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “The broadcast interrupted for a word from your president/he says citizens, it seems our time here has come to an end/Let us not look back at things left undone but could have been/But take with us a sweet memory as we return to the stars again/Mothers, kiss your daughter/Fathers, hug your sons…” Clearly he isn’t actually singing about the end of the world here. Rather, this would seem to be more metaphorical speak being used to address the matter of accepting what life brings us. This is inferred throughout with each comment. He notes the president in the story is telling the nation to look forward, not back. Dorris then goes on to tell parents to love their children. This is a rare way for someone to present a rather familiar message about embracing the future rather than regretting the past. That positive message is made even stronger as it is coupled with the song’s upbeat musical arrangement. The two elements together make the song not only a sign of the direction in which the band might be moving (since it comes near the album’s end), but also another example of the album’s overall strength. When it is considered along with the whole of ‘Morning Thunder,’ the two songs together give that much more reason for listeners to give this album a chance. They are not the album’s only strong points, of course. The album’s finale, ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ is one more of the album’s best moments.
‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ stands out just as much as the previously discussed songs thanks in large part to its own musical arrangement. Unlike the rest of the album’s arrangements, this opus is a gentle, flowing semi-acoustic work that serves very well to illustrate the song’s optimistic yet contemplative lyrical theme. The arrangement is a gentle piano-driven work that uses keyboards and a guitar to round out its whole.
Dorris’ statement in the song’s chorus that, “I don’t think this world might change for us/But in the process we may better ourselves/Let’s change the world” makes clear the song’s lyrical theme. He builds on that statement in the verses by singing in the lead verse, “I slipped from my skin/It sits heavy on my bones/Spread the love with music/And the music with love/And I’ve got stupid love/You can’t keep my lips off my guitar/And I’ve seen a lot of tragedy/This is the worst by far/And I don’t think this world might change for us/But in the process/We may better ourselves/Let’s change the world.” He goes on in the song’s second verse to sing, “Back down on Earth/We’ve still got kids with their feet/Alone in the street/Where shadows creep/Who believe in something/Or become something more/’Cause the concrete isn’t so forgiving at melting point temperatures…It’s even hotter in hell.” Simply put, Dorris is making a statement about the current state of the world, adding that it is up to us to change the world. He is stressing the world is not going to change for us. It is on us to make the change happen. This is another important message that while quite familiar throughout music’s modern history, is still welcome here. What’s more, the way in which the message is sent in this song makes message just as relevant and fresh as ever. Again, when it is considered alongside the song’s contemplative but positive musical arrangement, the two come together to make ‘I Don’t Think (Change The World)’ clearly another strong point in the whole of New Shoes. When it is considered along with the songs previously discussed here and other songs featured in the record, such as ‘Hitchiker,’ ‘Amalia’ and ‘Farmer in Suburbia,’ those songs – and the others not directly noted here – join together to make the record in whole a work that is a strong second effort from Sowflo. They make the record another offering from the band that all reggae fans will appreciate.
Sowflo’s second album New Shoes is a strong new offering from the Florida-based band that reggae fans across the board will enjoy. That is because while it clearly boasts plenty of similarities to songs from the likes of Sublime, Dirty Heads and 311, it also presents a sound late in its run that creates an identity unique in and of itself for the band. Those songs are the record’s strongest points, and show potential for growth from the band. When they are considered with the rest of the record, the whole proves to be a work that will appeal to a wide range of reggae fans. New Shoes is available now on Space Duck Records. The band launched a tour in support of New Shoes on Friday. The tour features a handful of dates in March, April and May. The dates are noted below.
MAR 22 Stans- Goodland, FL
MAR 27- The Ranch- Fort Myers, FL (w/ COLLIE BUDDZ & ROOTS ALMIGHTY)
MAR 30- Dixie Roadhouse- Cape Coral, FL (Record Release Show!)
APR 12- Stottlemeyr’s Smokehouse- Sarasota, FL
MAY 11- Orlando Amphitheater- Orlando, FL (Dirty Heads Orlando Vacation)
More information on Sowflo’s upcoming live dates is available with more information on New Shoes and the band’s latest news and more at:
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