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Jack Johnson - Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies from Curious George

Jack Johnson, Curious George

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

JUST when we thought it wasn’t possible for Jack Johnson to get any cooler, he goes and releases this sublime new album.

Although regarded as the soundtrack for the forthcoming animated feature film Curious George, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies also rates as a standalone long-player boasting nine new songs and three duets with Ben Harper, G Love and Matt Costa.

And it’s a cracking effort, as beautifully laidback as the singer-songwriter’s previous work and boasting innumerable instant classics.

Johnson accepted the task of providing a voice for a central character that doesn’t speak after recently becoming a father and viewing it as an excellent opportunity to make a record for parents and children.

Hence, there are moments when the album assumes the identity of a potential Sesame Street soundtrack (such as Jungle Gym and The Sharing Song) – but thankfully they are kept to a minimum.

For the most part, his sweet-natured vocals and easygoing acoustic guitar strumming is allowed to take centre-stage and the effect is as warm and soothing as a long massage after a stressful day.

Highlights include the wonderfully melodic opening track Upside Down, with its excellent chorus and opening percussion that hints at The Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil.

And second track Broken, which drops in some really strong riffs and warm lyrics (‘without you I was broken, I’d rather be broke down with you by my side’) that recall the romantic brilliance of Better Together, from his recent In Between Dreams album.

Excellent, too, is his breezy cover of the White Stripes’ classic, We’re Going To Be Friends, which in Johnson’s hands seems tailor-made to appeal to the children with its easy-going sentiment (‘walk with me, Suzy Lee, through the park, by the tree, we can rest upon the ground and look at all the bugs we found’).

De La Soul’s Three Is The Magic Number gets a breezy, acoustic makeover with the child-friendly 3 R’s, an educative track that includes a chorus of children at different points. In stripped down form, it’s a great listen but the remash by Money Mark succeeds in funking things up considerably and closes the album in strong fashion.

Elsewhere, look out for the achingly beautiful Wrong Turn and the Ben Harper duet, With My Own Two Hands, which offers a nice contrast of vocal styles.

In case you hadn’t guessed, there’s barely a dud track on this album which boasts an effortless appeal to children and adults alike.

Jack Johnson’s status as one of the coolest customers around is surely cemented with this excellent, excellent record.

So go on, be curious.

Editor’s note: The album is presented with early animations from the film and its story line, which follows Curious George as he leaves the jungle to follow the Man with the Yellow Hat. It only serves to enhance the value-for-money of the whole package.

Jack Johnson caught live

Read our review of Curious George

Track listing:

  1. Upside Down
  2. Broken
  3. People Watching
  4. Wrong Turn
  5. Talk Of The Town
  6. Jungle Gym
  7. We’re Going To Be Friends
  8. Sharing Song
  9. 3 R’s
  10. Lullaby
  11. My Own Two Hands – Johnson, Jack & Ben Harper
  12. Questions
  13. Supposed To Be
  14. 3 R’s