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To the Sea

by Robin Scher / 30.06.2010

Admitting that you enjoy drinks with little umbrellas, movies starring Steven Segal or that you cried during the Lion King, are some of the guilty pleasures comparable to the admission that you’re a fan of Jack Johnson. Before being crucified on a longboard, let me clarify that I myself, am a massive fan and have received disapproving looks from my music snob friends for years. I have subsequently chosen the release of Jack’s fifth studio album, To the Sea, to “come out” to the world.

To the Sea once again delivers the beach right to your iTunes and the easy listening stoner guitar, which is both Johnson’s biggest critique and asset, wafts through the speakers like the tide. Like his previous album, Sleep through the Static, he has tried playing with his sound a bit and for the first time the presence of electric guitars could be felt in a number of the tracks. In the song, “When I Look Up”, Jack even tinkers around with a bit of fuzz and distortion – a refreshing break from the sometimes monotonous sound of his acoustic riffs. Another standout track, “Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology”, opens with a few bluesy harmonica chords moving into a stompy groove, soothed by Johnson’s melodic vocals.

As seen in the way Johnson goes about his life, the songs convey strong messages about the environment and conservation, going as far as recording the album in a solar-powered studio built by the artist himself. Tour profits are also donated to charities supporting the environment, which is great for all those fans who have a conscience but find it a bit tiresome to recycle.

Johnson’s product is basically “musical Marmite” – it’s nice and wholesome and you either love it or hate it. If you’ve enjoyed the previous four albums, then you’ll dig his new tracks. If not, then stay away from any surf shops which are likely to be playing the new album for the next few months, non-stop…

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