This week’s segment tunes into some cool ocean breezes, a laid-back vibe, and an overall feeling of simpler, easier times. Some might call it folk rock, indie pop or a generic soft rock – but I prefer to think of it as island music (or maybe shorten that even to just “surf”) – because it reminds me of the place where our featured artist is from, and that’s Hawaii.
Jack Johnson was born in Oahu in the mid-70s. His father was a very well-known surfer, and Jack expressed interest in continuing the legacy. He was the youngest invitee to the Pipeline Masters at 17 years old. That dream ended up being short lived due to a surfing accident that left him with more than 150 stitches in his forehead and a few missing teeth. With no further desire to pursue taming the waves, he focused his attention to music while attending University of California, Santa Barbara.
Today we focus on his 3rd album, In Between Dreams. This is Mr. Johnson’s best-selling album with roughly 16 million copies sold worldwide (and it went twice platinum in the states). It contains 14 tracks of very laid-back, acoustic tunes that instantly transport you to a beach, anywhere your favorite location might be. The album cover is a beautiful yellow, featuring a mango tree, which happens to be in reference to the track “Better Together.” Having been out almost a decade now, a few tracks have been featured in film, television and commercials, as you might expect. So don’t be afraid to dig in, just to check and see if any songs hit your ear just right, and you’ve always wondered what that song was.
This has very mixed reviews from critics, and is by far the least-acclaimed record I’ve discussed on Cheap Tunes Tuesday to date. This style of music can be very hit or miss for people. Sometimes people simply aren’t in the mood for something slow-paced or they might prefer “get-you-going” type of music. While I can appreciate that stance, when you take this album for what it is, it’s a very solid effort. There is no hiding behind over-production and instrumentals for Jack Johnson—what you hear is him pouring his soul into what he does. I’m not sure anyone would accuse him of being the best songwriter on the planet, but his lyrics and style match what he grew up with, and he does it about as good as anyone attempting to convey that island sound.
While this particular record may be featured today because of its $5 dollar price tag on Amazon, if you queue it up and enjoy, don’t be afraid to load up his other records. His style over the past 20 years or so has remained very consistent. So if you like what you hear here, you’ll like his other records as well. This is a strong find at any local record store for under $10 bucks, so getting the digital version for half that should make any day back from a long holiday weekend feel like a Hawaiian vacation.
Top 3 Tracks: