Jack Johnson
To the Sea


2.0
poor

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
June 2nd, 2010 | 32 replies | 15,532 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Where he has currently been all these years

At this point, thinking of Jack Johnson’s musical career brings this allegory to mind: The skies are dark and tumultuous; the earth shakes whilst the unyielding steaming-hot spew that is the Kīlauea Volcano finally reaches its peak of explosion – well over twenty-seven years in the making – destroying the property of residents and the wildlife habits of Johnson’s own native system of islands, Hawaii. Out in a rowboat, seemingly oblivious to the overarching and breaking waves all around him, is Johnson himself, humming a ditty and penning the next entry to his sunny-eyed library of beach-bum, laid-back anthems. While amidst the chaos of the islands, all of the residents back on the shore are yelling at the songwriter to come back to land and help them out in any way he can. But Johnson’s lost in his own mythical world. He’s been in there for nine years now.

Now don’t get me wrong; the Hawaii-born singer-songwriter, filmmaker, surfer, do-it–all has had his fair share of troubles in his life, as he lost his chance at a professional surfing career because of a traumatic head injury early on, and even recently lost his father in death last year. But it’s just that Johnson has always, always been the one to look at the brighter side of things, even to the very point of boredom for listeners, being tagged as a less abrasive and preachy Ben Harper and appealing to the college bums everywhere with his restrained and portion-controlled Top-40s swoonings. Lucky he gets new recruits to his camp with each academic year, though, as his formula long ago became quite stale once 2003’s sixteen-runner On and On ran its course. He’s a stubborn beach bopper, certainly, and despite adding electric guitars here and there, more reliance on Hawaiian grooves, and even a jam-band element to this year’s To the Sea, Johnson’s music still can’t help but feel the same every time.

“You and Your Heart” is designed to deceive early on for what lies in wait for the remainder of To the Sea. The track is a rockin’ steamroller of Top-40 proportions, as catchy as it is destructive, and injects a little flair into the laid-back persona of Johnson that we’ve all come to expect from the singer-songwriter. And then… it’s gone – the flair, that is. Johnson unfortunately takes the route that he took with the middle sections of second album On and On and 2008’s Sleep Through The Static, resting on his laurels and offering just enough for the fans to be happy, all the while giving sufficient grounds for critics to scoff and sign his name away with contempt. The water is stirred a little once “At or With Me” comes around, though, Johnson bringing a lively jammy-piano rock layout to the song that grabs attention, if not keeping it all that long with laughably bad lines like “you can’t trust anyone in this town / oh baby those are such great shoes.” Come on now, really, Johnson?

In relation to his lyrics, Johnson has always been a bit safe in what subjects he decides to tackle with his albums. You can almost always expect songs about love, fatherhood, and the occasional wildlife awareness fit and the like. Here on To the Sea it’s really no different, and this is a real shame, too, as the songwriter has obviously made strides to at least switch up his instrumental happenings running through the course of his work. What was bare, honest acoustic simplicity on 2001’s Brushfire Fairytales is now more lively with beats and piano tinkerings on To the Sea, baring early career recalls such as “My Little Girl” and “Turn Your Love”. However, despite such changes, Johnson still remains fundamentally the same in both the feel and the mood that his music gives off. His stubbornness to possibly cry a little every now and then and at least inject some shelf-life into his music has made everything he’s done thus far solely surface-worthy and easily forgettable.

Coming near the end of To the Sea, Johnson confesses to another over bare acoustics that “I can tell you anything but the truth." When I first heard the line, it really hit a note with me, as the lyric really grabs at the gist of what Johnson operates around here on this album, as well as those that came before it. It’s the welcome mat of his niche that he’s built over the years, a type of content-ness in the face of adversities where he is always looking at the extreme positive side of things, even if it often-times may seem blindsided, irrelevant, trite, and, by this particular artist, done to death. Johnson’s certainly not one to disappoint his fans, though, but neither is he one to amaze anyone else outside his camp. With To the Sea, he’s just out in his boat again, with the chaos all around him, singing as if all is well once more, but all the while seemingly oblivious to the fact that it's really starting to get old.



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user ratings (140)
Chart.
3
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
robin
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



4241 Comments


now that allegory is going to be in my mind for my philos exam. bitch. i don't really like this guy anymore anyway so i won't check this out.

awesome review jared, pretty much sums up my thoughts on his music generally.

Ponton
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



5784 Comments


Thanks for the feedback, and sorry about that imagery, though good luck on the exam.

Always thought that way about this guy, and the lackluster feel I got for this gave me a chance to write about it, I guess.

BigHans
June 2nd 2010



26455 Comments


Good review, jack Johnson = snoozefest.

thebhoy
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



4459 Comments


Oh hey a new Jack Johnson album. *crickets*

Waior
June 2nd 2010



11425 Comments


Seeing how everybody attractive loves Jack Johnson, having him in my iTunes is a huge favor. I never did hate his music, it's really the most inoffensive thing ever. I'll probably check this out and it will be probably be a 3 again. But that's okay. I didn't expect anything better.

AggravatedYeti
June 2nd 2010



7684 Comments


Oh hey a new Jack Johnson album. *crickets*



Willie
Moderator
June 2nd 2010



15876 Comments


I had to listen to this album. It's the same crap song that he's loaded every other album with.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Willie
Moderator
June 2nd 2010



15876 Comments


P.S. - If I feature this later today it's not going to bring tears about how the review isn't perfect and you don't know why you keep getting features; right? ;)

alachlahol
June 2nd 2010



7471 Comments


grilling and chilling are the only times this guy really comes into play, or when you're taking a crap in the bathroom just flip on the shower stereo play some jack johnson makes things go much easier

Ponton
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



5784 Comments


P.S. - If I feature this later today it's not going to bring tears about how the review isn't perfect and you don't know why you keep getting features; right? ;)


Haha, no, I'll make sure not to complain about it. It's very appreciated, thanks.

djaydjay
June 2nd 2010



39 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The fact that I don't agree with your point of vue doesn't change the fact that this review is good
;-) you have my vote
I always liked jack johnson, especially his early work. While this isn't as great (in that
perspective, I should probably drop my rating), it's still a nice layed back album. I'll have to
listen a few more time to be sure of my rating, but it won't go below 3.

EVedder27
June 2nd 2010



6088 Comments


Never really was into this guy, but the DMB comparisons always pissed me off. Great review Jared, really liked the intro.

Ponton
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



5784 Comments


Thanks, Mike. I never picked up on the Dave Matthews comparisons either. Johnson might appeal to a similar target group of listeners, but they sound really different in a few ways.

The fact that I don't agree with your point of vue doesn't change the fact...


Thanks man, and I'm glad you enjoyed the album. A lot of fans seem to get mad at negative reviews like this, so I guess its cool to get feedback from a fan who is pretty openminded when it comes to opinions.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2010



15332 Comments


i actually kinda liked this. i agree it isn't anything new...just struck a chord with me for some reason.

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

DoctorNurse
June 2nd 2010



475 Comments


doopa doopa deedah doopa deedah dee do - as far as im concerned thats every jack johnson song ive ever heard

mvdu
June 2nd 2010



599 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Thanks man, and I'm glad you enjoyed the album. A lot of fans seem to get mad at negative reviews like this, so I guess its cool to get feedback from a fan who is pretty openminded when it comes to opinions."

If I got mad at reviews I disagreed with, I'd be mad a lot - LOL. There will always be a place for music writing even as people should form their own opinions. Good review; I would probably agree on the album.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2010



20855 Comments


Yep, another solid review Jared. Although, 5 paragraphs worth for Jack Johnson is probably 3 too many.

Ponton
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



5784 Comments


Thanks Davey, and sorry about the length. Tried to be thorough, I guess, and it might disrupt my argument a lot of I took things out. At least I didn't spell his name wrong ;)

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
June 2nd 2010



20855 Comments


Hehe. You could have just written one word: SNORE!

Actually saw a pic of him the other day and he's gone the big bushy beard.

Ponton
Emeritus
June 2nd 2010



5784 Comments


Saw that as well and with a set of curly hair to match. Didn't recognize him at first



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