Oh look, it’s Jack Johnson. My review notes for this album rather inevitably include the following: slide guitar, strumming, nice melody, “ukulele or capoed guitar?” and “Is he stoned?”. So, Jack is seemingly here to tell you it’s all good, brah.
Actually, it’s not. Jack’s got a frown. Spoiler warning: it might have something to do with the environment and his orange-hued Commander In Chief. Prepare for placid rage as Jack takes on walls and the narcissism of today. “Who’s gonna give me some good news and who’s gonna take it too far?” he croons on Gather.
And he is a crooner. Twenty-five million albums later, you can bet this former surfer knows his target audience. The thing is, you get the feeling that, despite a lyrical change of subject, there’s been no attempt at a change of pace. Midway through recording this album, he flaked out to go surfing with wave bro Kelly Slater, and that fact is not surprising at all when the eventual album contains a song with the uninspired title of Love Song #16. Only the summer vibes and autumnal angst of My Mind Is For Sale (containing the line “all the real estate in my mind is for sale, it’s all been subdivided”, before then launching into a metaphor on housing and the current political climate that bizarrely works) shows any sort of pushing of the envelope. In fact, either by design or under orders from his record company, Johnson’s seventh album seems to contain all the good stuff within its first few tracks, the rest so throwaway it would be more accurate to describe this as an EP with bonus tracks.
In fairness, Johnson has never sought to be seen as more than a comfort blanket of a singer-songwriter, and you can find no fault with his excellent playing here, with each of his instruments – this is a true solo album – immaculately timed and played. It’s just a shame that he doesn’t seem to have any other mode to use that talent with than beach party-level strumming.
All The Light Above It Too came out on 8th September via Brushfire Records.