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A Brokedown Melody OST - Jack Johnson & friends

A Brokedown Melody OST

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

JACK Johnson is nothing if not prolific – but that’s only a good thing. Having released Songs and Lullabies From Curious George earlier this year, he now contributes to another film soundtrack that’s equally close to his heart.

A Brokedown Melody is the accompanying soundtrack to the 2004 documentary of the same name that followed the times, travels and experiences of a group of surfers as they ride the waves across South America, Polynesia and Jamaica.

It’s designed to mirror the laidback vibe of the surfing community that’s evident on-screen and succeeds in effortlessly evoking images of the sun-and-sand lifestyle of the film’s protagonists – whether you’ve seen the documentary or not.

Jack Johnson is, of course, among those surfers and the mellow, campfire vibe of his music in general sets the template for what to expect from his fellow contributors. Johnson himself contributes two new songs in the form of Home and Let It Be Sung, as well as an alternative version of his hit single Breakdown, which still manages to sound terrific in whatever format he recreates it (remember, The Handsome Boy Modelling School have also reworked it on their last album to similarly excellent effect).

Of the new offerings, Let It Be Sung features friends, fellow musicians and tour-mates Matt Costa and Zach Gill (from the Animal Liberation Orchestra). It’s a totally endearing blend of acoustic guitar riffs (some of them lazy, some of them invoking the aloah vibe of Hawaii) that are perfectly accompanied by Johnson’s soft, shimmering vocal delivery and the nice layering from Costa and Gill. It’s a perfect track to kick back with and let those everyday worries fade away.

The new version of Breakdown is a little more stripped down, as though recorded around a campfire on the beach with friends and a few beers, but it’ll still have you singing along with its chorus (especially in light of its familiarity).

And Home is a similarly pleasing acoustic gem that’ll have you swaying along with its tender melodies, while simultaneously becoming lost in the warm glow of its reassuring lyrics.

Elsewhere, Norwegian acoustic outfit Kings of Convenience contribute the quietly enchanting Know How (especially when the female vocals kick in), Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder lends his gruff, distinct vocal style to the stripped down (and previously unreleased) Goodbye and The Beta Band remain as downtempo and haunting as ever on Needles In My Eyes.

Californian-born singer-songwriter Matt Costa, meanwhile, continues to build on his rapidly emerging reputation with his new song The Road, which effectively showcases his wonderful ability to blend melodic guitar riffs with warm vocals and irresistible lyrics. If you haven’t had chance to check out his solo album Songs We Sing then maybe now’s the time.

There’s even a deeply mellow Koop remix of Astor Piazzolla’s shimmering jazz-funk classic Vuelvo Al Sur to ensure that the seaside vibe doesn’t pass you by.

Indeed, if only to take your mind off the cold, dark days of the English winter (as it finally kicks in), A Brokedown Melody is worth owning for the way it transports to you to a warmer place. It’s feelgood vibe is utterly infectious.

Track listing:

  1. The Cave – Culver City Dub Collective
  2. Breakdown – Jack Johnson [Film Version]
  3. Know How – Kings Of Convenience
  4. We Need Love – Johnny Osbourne
  5. Transfiguration #1 – M Ward
  6. Let It Be Sung – Jack Johnson With Matt Costa And Zach Gill
  7. Goodbye – Eddie Vedder
  8. Needles In My Eyes – The Beta Band
  9. Window – Doug Martsch [From Built To Spill]
  10. The Road – Matt Costa
  11. Vuelvo Al Sur – Astor Piazzolla [Koop Remix]
  12. Home – Jack Johnson
  13. Yeah Man (Humans Need Humans) – Mt Egypt (UK bonus track)