By Ally Fedorka
When I think about Jack Johnson, the first things that come to mind are banana pancakes, high school summers and how nice it would be to live in Hawaii. Johnson’s new album doesn’t make me feel any differently, and this consistency is just one reason why his fans are so devoted.
The 12-track album, titled “From Here to Now to You,” was released on Sept. 17 and it quickly became Johnson’s fourth No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. The album is quirky, mellow and acoustic: qualities typical of all of Johnson’s albums.
“From Here to Now to You” opens with the album’s first single, “I Got You,” a whistley tune with very sweet, simple lyrics, my favorite being: “This weight’s too much alone / Some days I can’t hold it all alone / You take it all for me / When tomorrow’s too much / I’ll carry it all / I’ve got you.”
This track is a nice opener and it definitely keeps us listening.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Johnson said, “This record has been a lot of just sort of being in the family in just kind of my own little bubble. Dropping the kids off at school, and just day-to-day life, just washing the dishes, working in the garden, taking the trash out. That’s not necessarily what the songs are about, but that’s kind of where I was living, in that space.”
The album’s second track “Washing Dishes” goes hand in hand with Johnson’s description. He references washing the dishes and gardening. The song is clearly aimed at his wife and his family and examines his life as a husband and father. This is a rolling theme throughout the album, a pleasant shift from his last album “To the Sea,” (2010) which is filled with songs supposedly influenced heavily by the deaths of his father and cousin.
“Shot Reverse Shot” is a nice change of pace, a bit more upbeat from the first tracks. It has a crisp melody and an up-tempo vibe and, in my opinion, is the most interesting song on the album.
“Tape Deck” is a very cool song, displaying some unique, muted brass instrumentals while simultaneously maintaining an acoustic sound which includes a ukulele and a banjo, allowing it to blend with the rest of the album nicely.
Another one of my favorite songs on the album is “You Remind Me of You.” This track is also very reminiscent of Johnson’s family life and is a bit emotional, sort of a tear-jerker: “Well, your mama made you pretty / And your mama made you sweet / Your daddy gave you daydreams / And more cushion in your seat / Your mama gave you those windows / To your beautiful soul / Your daddy’s got more love for you / Than you could ever know.” The tune is catchy and the song is very relatable.
“Ones and Zeroes” is a mellow, down-tempo song with a beautiful chorus and nice, soft background vocals and acoustics. The lyrics are more ambiguous and personal than those on most of the other tracks.
“From Here to Now to You” closes with “Home.” When I first heard the track, it sounded very familiar and I later realized that this is because the song is also on his 2009 live album “En Concert.” The song is comfortable, catchy and classic Jack. It is a perfect way to end a satisfying album.
According to The Huffington Post, the album was written on Johnson’s front porch on the North Shore of Hawaii, recorded in his studio and created with two of his closest friends and band members, Ben Harper and producer Mario Caldato, Jr., who recorded Johnson’s second and third albums.
Johnson has no fear of falling off the grid or losing listeners as a result of his music’s predictability. This is what makes him so likeable as an artist: he stays true to himself.
“That term ‘easy-listening’ can have kind of a cheesy connotation for people, but we’ve always wanted to make our music easy on the ears,” Johnson said.
“We’re never really going for that kind of edgy thing that’s kind of like breaking new boundaries. We’ve always felt part of a tradition, kind of like folk barbecue or something. We just try to go in and do the simplest form of the song we can and just make it easy on the ears.”
If you’re looking for a mellow study or road trip album, Johnson’s “From Here to Now to You” is the ideal option. With any luck, you will finish listening to the album as content with your life as Johnson seemingly is with his.