Review Summary: Fans of Jack Johnson will fall in love all over again with the talented singer-songwriter's soft charm; those who aren’t fans will probably stay that way.
Jack Johnson is man that seems to care about a great deal of things. He cares about those less fortunate than him; he cares about his wife and children; he cares about his fans. He’s also a man who doesn’t care about certain things. He doesn’t care about making a lot of money, as he gives 100% of his tour profits to charity; he doesn’t care about gaining much attention, as he tends to only have tours lasting a few weeks, and hides from the spotlight when he’s off; he doesn’t care what the critics say about his music’s laidback aesthetic, and he really never has. That being said, I am about to review his new album, From Then To Now To You.
In a way, this album has been reviewed four times already in the past decade. Jack Johnson hasn’t strayed from his established sound, nor does he seem likely do ever do so. Johnson puts his soul into his music. His care for those around him, and his lack of care for what the world offers have always been reflected on his albums; From Then To You To Now is no different. Opening track and first single, “I Got You,” is a slow, simple, song with whistles and a chorus that serenades: “I got you / I got everything / I got you / I don’t need nothing / more than you.” The song really sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a reminder that Johnson hasn’t gone anywhere he hasn’t been before, so you don’t have to worry. The critics will say the same things, the guitars will have the same bluesy licks, and his fans will get exactly what they wanted from this album.
Musically, Johnson has always proved listeners that quiet doesn’t mean less talent. Johnson’s backing band certainly takes stage left, but there are certainly hints of great instrumentation. Upbeat swinger, “Tape Deck” has a very impressive and enjoyable accordion and guitar duel that resonates throughout the track. But, as always, Johnson’s guitar takes the spotlight on nearly of every track, as it complements Johnson’s smooth voice beautifully. The lead guitar parts on this album resemble those you heard on younger albums like On and On. The short tune, “You Remind Me Of You,” has a very memorable acoustic accompaniment that bends, slides, and sings, which flows into the album’s second single, the bass-heavy “Radiate”. Following that is “Ones and Zeros”, a true highlight of the album. The slow-building song starts with a unique and ambivalent guitar lead, which supports some of Johnson’s finest lyrics yet that reflect and wonder about God, the future, and the world. But unfortunately, no Jack Johnson album goes without filler tracks. "Don't Believe A Thing I Say" is one of those, slow, repetitive, with decent lyrics that don't fully manage to salvage the song. Another filler track is "Washing Dishes", which is about washing dishes, and is about as enjoyable as washing dishes.
From Then To Now To You isn’t groundbreaking, nor did anyone anticipate it to be. Fans of Jack Johnson will fall in love all over again with the talented singer-songwriter's soft charm; those who aren’t fans will probably stay that way. In an interview, Johnson said, “Every song is changing the world, whether you’re putting negative vibrations or positive vibrations out there.” On this album, Johnson seems to have that very goal: to bring positivity and peace to the world. And one thing is for sure, the world has become a more positive place with a few new songs to add to its rainy-day playlist.
I Got You
Ones and Zeros