Surfing may remain his first love, but Jack Johnson’s music goes on getting bigger and bigger. For now, though, he remains an intensely private and endearingly shy man, his fear of speaking in public only recently conquered.
So when you hear that Sleep Through The Static was recorded in a solar powered studio, there is not the annoyance that might have come with other singer-songwriters bearing that news, as it doubtless would have become a publicity stunt. Johnson shuns all of that – and his music remains completely unaffected, an aside from him to the listener only, as the light ambling gait of All At Once confirms.
What this record may not offer, however, is anything new. This can be taken one of two ways – firstly that Johnson has found a style that suits him and makes him happy; therefore why should he change? The other being that he could have stalled his development, unwilling to try anything new or reach out beyond his comfort zone.
That may be so, but as his comfort zone projects an effortlessly cheerful vibe, you’d actually be quite happy for him to stay there. In today’s hundred miles (or kilometers!) an hour society, some things just need to stay the same, and this is the sort of album you’ll put on to accompany a sunny morning, a mental soak in the bath as it were.
And yet Johnson does add a few very subtle new ideas and lyrics. Adrift is one of the most gentle, floated pieces of music you could wish to hear. They Do They Don’t is affectingly emotive as the singer moves into a higher register. And, rather revealingly, Help Me Remember says to his girl, “don’t want that last thing I hear tonight to be a slammin’ door, baby let it be like before”. Not everything, then, is blue sky and perfect surf in Johnson’s world.
He remains a very simple communicator – not an insult – and only needs the basic musical tools to get his message across. At times you have to fight off the �friend chip’ visions it conjures up, like those annoying people who used to share Doritos in the adverts, but because Johnson has no pretension it’s easy to give in. An album you won’t be able to avoid – but its author’s easy charm will ensure you won’t mind it being around.