Jack Johnson Gives Off Laid-Back Vibes On Latest Album
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 22:09
Anyone even remotely familiar with the music of singer-songwriter Jack Johnson knows that there is a very particular sound associated with the former surfer turned musician. Though he may have deviated slightly with his stormier previous album, Jack is back to the mellow grooves and serene lyrics that put any listener right on a Hawaiian beach. From Here To Now To You, Johnson’s newest album, is yet another example of just how much people cherish music with a solid laid back vibe. The album is definitely about good vibes, and with steely acoustic guitars, bongos, and easy toned vocals, the music definitely inspires a heavy sigh and an attitude that life could be much, much worse. It just goes to show, however stressed you may be, a good track with a relaxing melody can always offer some relief.
From Here To Now To You opens with the single, “I’ve Got You,” a beautifully-written love letter to his wife that includes a nice preview of what to expect on the album musically. The instruments used in “I’ve Got You” all make an appearance again at some point on the album, especially the slide guitar—not something you would necessarily expect from a Jack Johnson song, but it fits in beautifully. The slide guitar comes up quite a bit throughout the album, providing a slight bluegrass feel to an otherwise tropical sound, a move that may not be revolutionary, but works wonderfully for his music. Johnson adds a little honky-tonk feel to his new album with the fiddle-laden “Tape Deck,” a playful retrospective on his early musical days and how he struggled to find his niche in the musical world. The other major standout of the album is the song “Never Fade,” which more than any other track on the album, truly encapsulates the classic Johnson sound that so many people love. Its sentimentality mixed with soothing vocals and guitar put this song right on the list of quintessential Johnson tunes that will be associated with his classic catalogue.
There is more than enough beauty to be found on the album. The songs “Don’t Believe A Thing I Say” and “Ones And Zeroes” stand out particularly as having some of the warmest sounds Johnson has ever released. That said, there is plenty of sappiness to be found as well, with overly simplistic songs like “You Remind Me Of You.” Sometimes the sappiness comes off a little too thick, which can polarize an audience that occasionally gets sick of hearing the same thing over and over. Though many see Johnson’s resolute return to his established sound as a good thing, the album does seem like the same old music. Where the last album seemed a bit more experimental, with sound and words born out of angst, this song feels like the calm that returns after a storm blows through. Sure, it’s nice initially to have a return to normalcy, but there is a palpable lack of excitement.
In spite of having a sound that can come off a bit monotonous to a casual fan, From Here To Now To You is a definite success. Johnson draws on all kinds of influences, from Jimmy Buffett to The Beatles in this chilled-out folk excursion. The album has mass appeal with a single that is beautifully written and performed, as well as some more folk fueled tracks that anyone can enjoy. Though a lot of Johnson’s songs sound similar, the sound itself is always pleasant, and that’s what keeps fans coming back. This album is certainly no different.