Jack Johnson - From Here To Now To You (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
JACK Johnson has such an easygoing style that it’s difficult not to find something to like about him. Yet, recent albums have tended to stick a little too closely to a tried and tested formula.
From Here To Now To You, his latest, delivers pretty much what you might have been expecting for the most part. But it also, rather pleasingly, adds a little more too.
Johnson’s signature sound is, of course, his acoustic guitar and laidback vocals. There’s a positivity, too, that makes his songs easily engaging.
But there are a three or four moments on this latest collection that play on that formula and deliver a more robust sound. You couldn’t quite call it rock. And there are traces of pop. But it’s essentially a fuller sound to the campfire vibe Johnson usually delivers. And they are the undoubted album highlights.
These include Washing Dishes, which breeze along in quick-fire fashion, dropping a pop-driven chorus and a greater sense of urgency. Coming two songs into the LP, it’s a welcome surprise and an instant Johnson classic.
What’s more, it’s followed by the equally meaty Shot Reverse Shot, which drops in slide guitar elements, a kick-ass percussion, a rhythm and blues vibe and a gutsier, edgier vocal from Johnson that you’d more usually associate from him. And it’s great.
A little later on, there’s Tape Deck and Radiate, both of which embrace a more energetic sound, while Ones And Zeroes goes the other way and gets a little darker and channels the observational style of artists like Dylan and Cohen (with lyrics like “there’s this fire trying to crawl through the window into my life”).
Perhaps this ‘variation’ is down to the presence of producer Mario Caldato, the man behind Johnson’s celebrated albums On and On and In Between Dreams as well as albums by The Beastie Boys, Super Furry Animals, Seu Jorge and more.
But that doesn’t mean to say that some of the more formulaic songs are dull. Johnson’s warm lyricism still contribute to some great signature moments. Allbum opener and former lead single I Got You has an instantly catchy whistle married to those laidback vocals and gentle acoustic strumming, as well as a terrific sense of romanticism. It’s a great companion record to Johnson classics such as Better Together.
Later on, Home offers up a similarly warm homage to, well, home with Johnson declaring “I gotta get gome, there’s a garden to tend”. It may well place a smile on your face as you reflect on your own home comforts and the person waiting there for you.
And in between there’s Never Fade, an enticing mix of ukulele and acoustic guitars (with some subtle violin) that’s also achingly romantic, Don’t Believe A Thing I Say which has a really addictive central riff, As I Was Saying, which adopts a country-folk vibe complete withe some nice piano arrangements, and Change, which is effortlessly toe-tapping, albeit with a bluesy central acoustic strum.
Put together, this could be Johnson’s strongest collection of songs since On And On and In Between Dreams. From Here To Now To You is a really great listen.
Download picks: I Got You, Washing Dishes, Shot Reverse Shot, Radiate, Ones And Zeroes