October 2, 2017 Jack Johnson – All The Light Above It Too (Album Review)
Hawaiian Singer-Songwriter Jack Johnson wears many hats: he is a musician first and foremost, but also an actor, producer, Documentary filmmaker, former competitive surfer, and active member of the sustainability movement. He debuted on the music scene in 2001 with Brushfire Fairytales, going on to release five additional studio albums – from 2003’s On and On to 2013’s From Here to Now to You – over the next twelve years, as well as creating the 2006 collection Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George. Needless to say, Johnson’s music, much like its creator, is not easy to define: it incorporates elements of Folk, Surf Rock, Reggae, and even Hip-Hop, blending it all into something that is always Rock-based, always soft, and undeniably catchy in the most peaceful sense of the term.
With four years elapsed since his last studio offering, Johnson triumphantly returned on September 8, 2017 with All The Light Above It Too, thanks to his own Brushfire Records in conjunction with Republic Records. Produced by Robbie Lackritz (Chris Hadfield, The Weather Station), the ten-song collection presents Johnson’s unique blend of sociopolitical commentary steeped in gentle, rustic guitars and Pacific sea breezes.
All The Light Above It Too opens to rustic guitar sounds that create the perfect Pacific breeze, setting the pace for “Subplots,” a meandering little tale of the many facets that exist within ourselves. With a gentle, swaying beat and some deliciously fat bass-lines, “You Can’t Control It” is a catchy little offering that plays into Johnson’s support of the sustainability movement. “If and when you drink from this vast ocean / You can’t control it,” he sings in a whisper-soft voice. “Sunsets For Somebody Else” is another delicate social commentary, this time in the form of a lullaby for those of us that lie awake at night, troubled by the world around us.
Like diamonds of sunshine shimmying across ocean waves, “My Mind Is For Sale” is a little funky number that balances all things infectious in sound against Johnson’s intelligently poetic lyrics. He follows this with the sweet-sounding “Daybreaks.” With a dreamy feel that is reminiscent of floating through clouds, it is easy to lose oneself in these sounds!
There is a Pacific embrace in “Big Sur,” a sonic road trip down California’s coastline that feels like sunshine in poetic form. Meanwhile, the tender “Love Song #16” is an adorable little offering in honor of the quirky and spirited gal who holds Johnson’s heart. It flows superbly into rustic guitars that set the tone for the thoughtful “Is One Moon Enough?,” where, if you appreciate what you have, the grass is definitely not any greener. “Gather” presents a deliciously funky experimentalism that sets the stage for album closer, “Fragments (From The Film The Smog of the Sea).” The film of reference is a thirty-minute Documentary – released by Johnson – that explores plastic pollution in the Sargasso Sea of the North Atlantic. However, you need not know anything about this to enjoy the hauntingly beautiful “Fragments,” which is a perfectly intelligent piece to close out an all-around insightful and marvelously enjoyable collection.
All The Light Above It Too is Jack Johnson in his finest hour: exquisitely meandering sonics that author tranquil moods presented alongside insightful lyrical content. With a clear love of nature, with a keen eye for the problems present throughout our troubled world, and yet with no desire to feverishly impose his knowledge, Johnson weaves a gentle spell that pushes listeners toward awareness at their own pace. If you can embrace the gentlest subplot inside yourself – one that cherishes whisper-soft dances across the aural waves – then please do step into the light! For the enjoyment of his never-boring, always insightful craft, CrypticRock give Jack Johnson’s All The Light Above It Too 5 of 5 stars.