Jack Johnson’s “To The Sea” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-12-19 12:12:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

If you’re looking for a benchmark three-star album, Jack Johnson’s To The Sea is a downright lovely candidate.

To The Sea is a charming little album populated by harmless pop songs that are predominantly driven by Johnson’s guitars, both acoustic and electric.  There is, of course, the basic rhythm section we’ve come to expect: Adam Topol on drums and Merlo Podlewski on bass.  This is all accented quite nicely by Zach Gill’s keyboards.

Here and there, as in the bare bones arrangement and thick harmonies of “When I Look Up,” Johnson diverges from the regularly scheduled program, but, for the most part, this is business as usual.  Excellent tracks like “From the Clouds” and even the single “You and Your Heart” suffer from sounding too choreographed at times.  The former heats up a bit at the end and the latter is catchy and lyrically interesting, so this deficiency is covered over for the most part, though it’s not so well disguised on others like “At or With Me.”

The stripped down, direct sentiment of “My Little Girl” and “Only the Ocean” is proof positive that Johnson hasn’t lost the knack for writing and performing simple songs that present cause for pause and reflection.  Likewise, “Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology” is a catchy smirk-and-wink of a song, worthy of being termed anthemic even and thus illustrative of Johnson’s pop mentalities and abilities.

These aren’t the issues here.

What is questionable is the manner in which the other tracks blend together.  On the one hand, they operate very cohesively, as an album.  In addition to the commonalities in sound, the rhetoric of “No Good with Faces” on track three easily gives way to that on the third to last track “Pictures of People Taking Pictures,” as it does from the sociological commentary on uncertainty of track four, “At or With Me,” to the directness of the penultimate song, “Anything But the Truth.”

Clearly, To The Sea is more than merely a collection of songs written around the same time.

To The Sea (Jack Johnson, 2010)

To The Sea (Jack Johnson, 2010)

On the other hand, the tracks blend so well as to defy individuality at times.  For instance, it is difficult to decide whether a song like “Turn Your Love” is grooving or falling into a rut.  I have yet to figure out whether “The Upsetter” and “Pictures of People Taking Pictures” are moving, or whether the harmonies make up for what the words and instrumentation lack.

Ironically, this is the first time I’ve ever felt lukewarm about a Jack Johnson release.  Accusations of lukewarmth have followed him his entire career, notably being the mantra chanted by those minimizing such outstanding albums as In Between Dreams and On and On.  (Cough.  Nudge.  This means you and your sub-three star balderdash, Rolling Stone.)

Frankly, I’ve never really gotten into Brushfire Fairytales, but it has an appeal that I won’t deny, and it is also a debut effort.  Likewise, I didn’t like Sleep Through the Static at first — in fact, I hated it.  I felt it was a letdown following the “Jack Johnson goes electric” hype, and I resented the inordinate amount of attention it received from critics.  However, when I eventually warmed to it, it came as a result of realizing that the individual songs were actually of very high quality.  I still don’t think it compares as an album in the ranks of In Between Dreams and On and On, but song for song, it holds its own.

So, in summary, I’ve never felt lukewarm about Jack Johnson’s music.

Until now.

The truth is that To The Sea is a likable — charming, even — studio album that lacks the punch, the elusive “x factor” to make it truly moving.  It functions a little too nicely as background music.  It’s a bit too chill, even for Johnson.  Still, there are those moments, like his tender vocals on “No Good with Faces” and his electric solos on “To The Sea” and “At or With Me” — each singlehandedly better than any electric performance on Sleep Through the Static — that stand out from the rest, as if to remind us that Jack Johnson is an artist not to be underestimated.

You might love this album.  You might think it’s forgettable.  As such, there’s no better reason to award it a three-star rating.

“All At Once” (Jack Johnson Cover)

Originally posted 2008-09-13 14:57:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to your weekend retreat from the real world…the best cover song music blog in the universe…a great place to post comments… the Laptop Sessions! I, for one, am really excited for what’s on the horizon here for the music video blog, as the coming week (starting with Jeff tomorrow) is another “New Bands Week.” Basically this is a week when every session — except for Original Wednesday, of course — features a song by a band that we’ve never covered in the history of the blog. I think it’ll be interesting to see what great new music comes to the blog! I actually have one band I plan to do that surprises even me; I’m honestly not sure why I chose this artist, but I’ll figure it out and let you know when I post my video.

Okay, now down to business. Today, I chose “All At Once,” Jack Johnson’s first track on his 2008 album Sleep Through the Static. This is an album that came out early in the year, and it was one of the first that I was really anticipating with excitement. Well, you know what they say about expectations. I don’t know what I expected, but I really wasn’t bowled over by this new release. It was billed as “Jack Johnson goes electric,” but if anything, he got slower and more mellow with the addition of the electricity. The joke circulated, at least among friends, that this more subdued sound wasn’t helped by the fact he recorded the album with natural power. Mike was similarly disappointed in the record, and as a result of our reviews, I believe Jim never even put the disc in his CD player. When he does get to it, I’d be curious to know what he thinks.

So, you may be wondering why I chose to play a song from this album. Well, my favorite playlist on my iTunes is my “New Music from 2008” playlist, so Johnson’s songs have been coming up for months and months, and this one in particular grew on me. I hope you understand — it’s not that the music is bad; far from it, in fact. I love this song. But as an album opener? The other tracks on the album never really get more upbeat and rocking than this one, which is disappointing. After an amazing album like In Between Dreams, I couldn’t help but become one of those fans that expects something. Slowly but surely these songs are growing on me, and I sincerely hope that you enjoy this one (and that I’ve done it justice!).

Well, that’s enough for me for one post. But, before I go, I need to pass on a really interesting tidbit of BnL trivia. Mike just called me today when he couldn’t get in touch with Jim to spread the news… He just learned in class that 9.8 meters per second squared is the rate of gravitational acceleration. It’s a mouthful, right? Well, this finally explains Ed Robertson’s line in the Barenaked Ladies’ song “When I Fall.” He’s talking about being up high and contemplating jumping, and he sings, “It’s 9.8 straight down…” Wow. I can’t believe I never knew what it meant!

Don’t miss another great cover of a new band by Jeff tomorrow, a new acoustic cover by Jim on Monday, then I’ll be back on Tuesday for my first installment in New Bands Week…

See you next session!

“Broken” by Jack Johnson – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2009-11-02 23:27:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Broken”
Jack Johnson

D
With everything ahead of us
We left everything behind
But nothing that we needed
At least not at this time
D                  G
And now the feeling that I’m feeling
G                                                      D
Well it’s feeling like my life is finally mine
Em                                      G                           D
With nothing to go back to we just continue to drive

Em
Without you I was broken,
Em      G                                                         D
But I’d rather be broke down with you by my side. (x2)

I didn’t know what I was looking for
So I didn’t know what I’d find
I didn’t know what I was missing
I guess you’ve been just a little too kind
And if I find just what I need
I’ll put a little peace in my mind
Maybe you’ve been looking too
Or maybe you don’t even need to try

Without you I was broken,
But I’d rather be broke down with you by my side.  (x2)

INSTRUMENTAL

With everything in the past
Fading faster and faster until it was gone
Found out I was losing so much more than I knew all along
Because everything I’ve been working for
Was only worth nickels and dimes
But if I had a minute for every hour that I’ve wasted
I’d be rich  in time; I’d be doing fine.

Without you I was broken,
But I’d rather be broke down with you by my side. (x4)

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s). They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **

“Do You Remember?” (Jack Johnson Cover)

Originally posted 2008-05-22 22:52:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Tonight, I introduce an artist that Jim has been asking for weeks why we haven’t covered before…Jack Johnson! This is a song from his last album, In Between Dreams, titled “Do You Remember?” It’s a great acoustic number from this great album, and it’s a perfect fit for this series.

On a side note, if I’ve counted correctly, this is my 60th Laptop Session! What a trip it’s been, and we’re not even halfway through the session-a-day commitment for 2008. It’s a bit daunting, but I hope that our viewership only continues to rise. Help spread the word — send your friends to http://LaptopSessions.com !

Be sure to come back tomorrow for another quality video from Jeff.

See you next session!