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Jack Johnson – To The Sea
June 1, 2010

Jack Johnson, surfer, documentary maker, liver of the good life, musician, generally nice person. Starting with that, who needs a review, right? But lets see what Johnson comes up with on his newest release “To The Sea”.

Essentially, he’s doing the same thing he’s been doing since he broke through, though over the years the classic pop influences have become a little more apparent. On “Brushfire Fairytales” & “On And On” it was the acoustic strumming and lush vocals that just kept things basic and on top of that very pleasant, and over the years with the releases of “In Between Dreams” & “Sleep Through The Static” Johnson started combining that with a smoother, more mainstream approach that is cut better for radio play. And radio play he got.

Apart from a handful of songs, Johnson’s albums have never been extremely memorable, yet he’s one of those artists you keep coming back to. It just sounds so very pleasant and relaxing. It’s too much to just dismiss his music as ‘feel good music’, but you can’t deny that’s a big part of it. His songs are actually pretty well-written singer/songwriter songs and often have nice little riffs and hooks hidden in them. Same goes for the songs on “To The Sea”, where Johnson finds a balance between being a solo musician and more of a band sound. Lead single You And Your Heart is strong and quite catchy and leads off the album very well.

The album in itself isn’t very surprising, it’s just Jack Johnson doing what he does best (and it works!), but there are a few songs that are actually quite impressive and surprising. At Or With Me is one of those songs. The arrangement is not as breezy as we’re used to and flows incredibly smoothly. And on When I Look Up, Johnson mixes in a little rock & roll, gives the record some needed energy.

Other songs that stand out are The Upsetter, which sounds like vintage Jack Johnson, just a little more mature, Pictures of People Taking Pictures, which has a very simple but extremely effective melody and a chorus that seems to have radio single written all over it. And the lush album closer Only The Ocean is also quite an interesting song.

Over all Jack Johnson is convincing and his music still comes off sincere, because he IS sincere. And there are a couple of songs that will confirm his status as mainstream musician and keep him playing pretty big stages. “To The Sea”, however, is probably not an album that will make many year-end-lists. It’s a good addition to your CD collection, it’s a very solid album with well written songs and the sincerity and ‘feel good factor’ of the album do make it a better record.

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