on 3 July 2010
I'm a MAHOOSIVE Jack Johnson fan - so expect an ever so slightly bias review...
Jacks's first album -Brushfire Fairytales- was the classic soulful singer songwriter album.
His second -On and On- was more of the same but with more pro-active/preachy/politcal themes running through it.
The third album -In Between Dreams- flies into my Top10 Albums Ever; it is the perfect chillaxed surf album.
On his fourth album -Sleep Through The Static- JackJ pulled a Dylan and went electric; the album grew on you...
Jack's latest album -To The Sea- at first feels like a load of songs that didn't make it onto previous albums.
But after the thirdish listen, it grows on you, and it becomes another JackJ classic.
As I'd said above, Jack Johnson's sound seems to evolve a bit with each album, and this is no exception, this album feels very much unmixed and raw, more like a live jam session than a polishd album; the result however is smooth like peanut butter :)
Album highlights include the funky single "You and Your Heart", the beautiful "My Little Girl", and the soulful "No Good with Faces"
Last week I went to see Jack Johnson live, the entire gig was amazing, and it was nice to see a few songs off this new album standing shoulder to shoulder with JackJ classics :)
Jack Johnson has always come across as a thoroughly
decent chap. The sort of dinner party guest who would
manage the order of his cutlery with confidence.
I imagine that the contents of his kitchen cupboards
are very well arranged and that he would not dare to
wear brown brogues with a blue suit.
His new album 'To The Sea' is nothing to be embarrased
about either. Thirteen tracks which deliver more of those
rounded, well-behaved and perfectly affable qualities
which we have come to expect from him.
Easy listening in the nicest possible way.
Mr Johnson knows how to craft a good tune and perform it
impeccably with a minimum of fuss and uneccesary decoration.
The absence of artifice is its greatest strength.
Recorded in his own studios over a brief three week period the
album possesses a vividly 'live' ambience. The eschewal of
overcomplex multi-tracking allows the simple arrangements room
to breathe and to make the strongest possible impact without
evidence of any undue strain, stress or tribulation.
Mr Johnson has an innate ability to relax and keep it real.
There are some really lovely songs in this collection.
The plaintive harmonica on 'No Good With Faces'
emphasises the tired and lonely emotional ambience of
the composition. Mr Johnson's laconic vocal delivery
pins down the mood of the piece with world-weary aplomb.
'From The Clouds' shimmers with sunny Caribbean charm.
Like Robert Palmer before him Mr Johnson understands
the importance of harmony and loose-limbed rhythm.
It is a delightfully laid-back performance.
'My Little Girl' and 'Turn Your Love' both tug at
our heart-strings. The backing vocals of the latter
are absolutely delightful. Simply perfect stuff!
'At Or With Me', a mid-paced rocker, shows off his fine
band firing on all six cylinders. Merlo Podlewski (bass),
Zach Gill (keyboards) and Adam Topol (drums) help our
hero (kicking out some impressively rugged guitar lines
himself) realise the good energy embedded in this fine song.
Final track 'Only The Ocean' is a beautiful invention;
one of the finest creations of his career in fact and
a worthy conclusion to this truly stunning album.
Mr Johnson just gets better and better.
on 14 September 2012
I'm a huge Jack Johnson fan. I always have been, and he's most of the reason I decided playing the guitar was a good idea in the first place. So, being such a great fan of his, maybe it's inevitable that I was going to love this new album.
What's surprising is that I didn't, at first. This album didn't capture my ear the same way as his earlier ones did.
But I've had the album for months now, and every so often, one more song will play randomly and I'll think, "Why don't I know this song?! It's brilliant!"
So to all the doubters... I think our expectations are being challenged a little bit by Jack's recent style. But if you let it hit when you're not expecting it... you'll love this album. "From The Clouds" is brilliant, and very likely my favourite song on the album.
on 10 July 2010
To The Sea is acoustic guitarist and songwriter Jack Johnson's 5th studio album, recorded in a 4 week period he returned to his roots of acoustic playing and up beat lyrics , after his last and slightly criticised album Sleep through the static.
Jack has previously written four albums in his 10 year career, these have gradually rose to high popularity notablly Between Dreams and writing the musical score to the motion picture "Curious George". This album is dedicated in memory of his father who sadly passed just before the release of the album, the album has a wonderful live feel as many of Jack's freinds sing along in the studio in the background.
As with my previous Jack Johnson review the album is a wonderful product and deserves a few words.
The Album is made of a cardboard material as Jack and his recording company , Brushfire Records, are big on the environment. There are two logo's on the back which state the album is made from tree's in controlled areas. Not only that but the recording studio in Hawaii is solar powered, how cool is that eh ?
The lyrics book is well made and has all the lyrics on a sea wood barrier , this really fits in and keeps the relaxing feeling of the album running all the way through.
My only complaint with the albums design is that the CD is pull out from a tight sleeve, this is quite difficult and means you get a few fingerprints on it.
Anyway on to the songs.
You and your heart is the first track and this starts with a completely new feel gettin away from his last album, Jack's well known "hit" strum begins the song and lifts the mood immesnly as well as an electric guitar playing a cool little riff in the background. Drums begin to play and so does the piano, you will notice an inability not to bob your head as Jack starts to sing "but you and your heart shouldn't feel so far apart".
The percussion and instruments really combine well within this song creating a nice summer song. 5/5
Up next is To the sea , the namesake of the album and expecting big things. Jack starts to play a sad but catchy tune as a drum and piano quietly play in the background.
It's got a few nice lyrics but isn't to upbeat , linking with Jack's earlier thoughts theirs the lyric "Run mighty son, run till you reach the sea", the last section of the song really kicks up as the electric guitar decided it want's a peice of the spotlight and plays out a awesome tune to end on.
Third is No good with faces , the start of the song has the usual harmonica played by Jack's good freind Zach Gill and some cool percussion thrown in for good measure. Jack starts with some nice , simple lyrics which lead us into the album, soon his easy acoustic guitar begins to carry you away from werever you are and you feel as though he is sitting right beside you.
Unlike other songs the focus is highly on Jack's voice with the percussion and guitar just floating in the background, this is really nice as so much synthesising and editing can become tiresome after a while. The song is a little sad and maybe it is just for an easier transistion from the previous album.
When asked about it he said " I guess it's a reference to a father leading his son to the sea, with the water representing the subconscious. So it's about trying to go beneath the surface and understand yourself". 4/5
Fourth is At or with me, a slow and deliberate piano plays out but this is all a trick and it is soon overtaken by an up beat electric guitar, followed by Drums as Jack asks "Are they laughing at or with me" , this is a really good party tune and has a couple of pop style "oh oh oh oh's" thrown in , delivered with a good effect from Jack's mesmerising voice.
The middle of the song has a slower paced section as a bit of emotion is passed through the song, before the electric guitar decides it has had enough and wants another go.
This is one of the songs which really has the feel of live music about it , as bits of conversation are in the background and it just feels as though your at the recording studio jamming along. 5/5
When I look up is a intermission peice and features a nice little verse by Jack with a couple of woman "ooooing" in the back, Its really relaxing especially with the raindrop background. 5/5
From the clouds is the seventh song and being the halfway mark is usually when albums start to fall apart, the song starts strong enough with the electric guitar reappearing and dusting itslef off from it absence in the last peice, an easy drum beat and some piano make this another head bobbing tune.
The openign lyrics are "Oh, your such a pretty thing, I'll take you home and make you all mine", the song has some really lovely lyrics and the vocals really do well to complement these, the percussion is kept in it's place and never once dares to step above the voice. 5/5
My little girl has a slow electric/acoustic start and its just you and jack, here he shows off how could a guitarist he really is has he brilliantly handles the lyrics whilst keeping a flowing tune, the lyrics are quite emotionally put forward and the lack of any other sound makes you really pay attention to what he is saying " Black and white and right and wrong only live inside us all" 5/5
Turn your love has a smooth acoustic thump sound, this is a song about Jack not wanting his lover to leave and the inclusion of backing singers really brings the song all together. The song has a good mix of guitars and this fits the emotional feeling of the song, "Why should I be sad , baby Im with, baby Im with , baby Im with you" is repeated throughout the chorus and brings the song up to a nice finish. 5/5
The upsetter has some funky bongo's which are picked up as well as the usual array of guitars. A jumpy tune and a song which I struggled to get into, It's not that its bad its just it feels a little out of place . 3/5
Red wine, mistakes , mythology learns from the poor prequel song and does everything completely different. Starting off with a harmonica it already feels like something special, the percussion starts and a slightly over zelous freind of Jacks makes a "woo" in the background, reiterating the live feel and showing it is a care free album. A keyboard slowly builds up and conversations , laughter and a louder harmonia are played. It is a lively atmosphere and one that you dont want to leave, this is all before the singing has started.
Jack comes out with a strong voice and big vocals, imposing himslef over the noise. Riddeling lyrics which Jack is brilliant with begins and as he hits the chorus everyone in the studio joins in and sings along, this is brilliantly worked and cant help but make you smile it's just way too fun.
Red wine, Mistakes , Mythology hits full marks and gets my award for best song of the album, definatley check it out.
Pictures of people taking pictures, that is a mouthful of a title and starts with simple strumming before the leftovers of the party hum along in the back. This feels like an end of party sorta song as Jack sings away as people leave, it has some nice lyrics and a good feel. It is slightly repetitive but a good song 5/5
Anything but the truth is a slow and sad feeling song, crickets can be heard in the background so im guessing the party is over and Jack is whiling the hours away as he is alone and remembers the women who left earlier in the album, a sad song but a nice one in the context of the album. 4/5
The last song is Only the ocean, a slightly distorted keyboard plays with a drum beat and electric guitar. "after all this time it's only the ocean and you" , the song is pretty sad and shows Jack is really missing and a little angry over the end of the relationship, again a nice song 4/5
Overall it's one of the best albums I have heard recently , especially as it doesn't fall apart in the second half.
on 30 May 2010
I have to say, when i ordered this album, i expected the best.
Jack's last album, 'sleep through the static' has to be one of my all time favorites, and this one fulfilled all expectations.
Songs like 'At or with me', 'From the clouds', 'The upsetter', and his single 'You and your heart' are more up beat, and reflect his previous work, similar to 'good people' and 'breakdown'. I have to say these are my favorite songs from this album. 'Red wine, mistakes, mythology' is a brilliant song aswell, with piano riffs that got my fingers tapping from start to end.
This album is definately worth buying and you would be missing out if you didnt.