The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of Jack Johnson's album 'To the Sea'

Jack Johnson - To The SeaReview Snapshot: Jack Johnson - famous for his soft, laid back sound and how he’s the perfect accompanist for a holiday - has released his fifth studio album. With it comes nothing particularly new or unexpected, but not particularly unpleasant either.

The Cluas Verdict? 6/10

Full review: The opening track “You and Your Heart” will be familiar to almost all Johnson fans, as it open with an upbeat acoustic sound. My first thought is that it could comfortably be heard in the ad for a new orange juice. Turn it on when you’re packing for a summer holiday. Nothing new there.

The title track fits perfectly with Johnson’s own explanation of the album title. "I guess it's a reference to a father leading his son to the sea, with the water representing the subconscious. So it's about trying to go beneath the surface and understand yourself". The most prominent lyrics in the song are “run my dear son, we’ve got to get the sea.”

“When I look up” is a really lovely bite-sized track. It talks about a pleasant walk home one night, and the feelings evoked from the stars and the moon; but the gem of this song is the backing. It’s the beautiful soft gospel choir that adds a real touch of magic to this song.

“Only the Ocean” is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It’s got a much mellower sound. There’s a momentary departing from summer here, to some drab rainy day in October (or July, if you’re reading this from Ireland). It has a sad, lonely feeling to it. The lyrics seem to play with the theme of the ocean that runs:

“It's only the ocean and you
You don't want
You don't wait
You don't love but you don't hate
You just roll over me
And you pull me in”

“Red Wine, Mistakes, Mythology” is a feel-good track with an echoing of true bluegrass. The lyrics are great but the real winner in this track is the harmonica, guitar and piano accompaniment.

Those who find Jack Johnson too happy-go-lucky and sickly sweet won’t find anything more substantial in this album. Those strong fans or folk like me who think he’s ‘nice’, will find this a perfectly acceptable album-inoffensive, soft and altogether Jack Johnson.

Elaine Peppard

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