Jack Johnson | On and On | Universal
Fade in. You’re alone, along the bluffs of Sands Beach, gazing out toward the rolling waves. While captivated by the reflections of the sunlight off the waves, your mind begins to ponder the bigger questions in life. Jack Johnson’s “Traffic in the Sky” is quietly piped in the background, a seagull soars past the setting orange sun and – cut! – the scene is complete.
In a packaging-is-everything world, it’s a sigh of relief when a musician with more talent than Kelly Clarkson has in a solitary bubbly toe gets due recognition. This hometown singer/songwriter began his ascent to fame when fans of his surf films, such as “September Sessions,” began asking for the Johnson-crafted soundtracks. Without missing a beat, Johnson cultivated the mellow, laid-back musical atmosphere so widely applauded in his debut album, Brushfire Fairytales.
Keeping with his established style, Jack’s follow-up album, On and On, maintains the simple melodic rhythms able to conjure up images of sun, sand and waves. But don’t think that’s all Jack has to offer nowadays. Between the acoustic “Cupid” and the reggae-infused “Wasting Time,” “Cookie Jar” tackles the issue of media influence with the lyrics: “‘Well, you can’t blame me’ says the media man / Well, I wasn’t the one who came up with the plan / I just point my camera at what the people want to see / It’s a two-way mirror and you can’t blame me.”
There’s no shortage of balding, angst-ridden 30-year-olds complaining about their high school days, helping make Johnson’s lackadaisical optimism so completely refreshing. It’s nice to finally listen to an artist who accepts life for what it’s worth. On and On is a great reminder that between worldwide conflict and unending media saturation, there’s still a sliver of room left for unwinding on the beach with a Corona in hand.
[Monique Sherman refuses to comment on exactly how much talent resides in her bubbly toes.]