To the Sea

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To the Sea

Post  MOJO the Moderator on Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:25 am

I just got my hands on Jack Johnson's new album, "To the Sea." By far, the coolest thing about this album is that it was recorded in Jack's solar-powered studios!!! Good on ya, Jack!

J.P. Plunier and Ben had a hand in "discovering" Jack (if you want to call it that) and they worked on his first album with him, Brushfire Fairytales. I really liked that album (and still do). On and On had some good tunes and so did In Between Dreams... but somewhere along the line I started to resent Jack Johnson...

Often I would try to talk to people about Ben Harper, and usually they wouldn't have heard of him before so I would do my best to describe his music... then, someone in the crowd would pipe up and say, "he's just like Jack Johnson" (this was when Jack Johnson had recently become very commercially successful). I hated it when people would say that... I'd spend the next few minutes explaining how Jack Johnson's songs all sound the same- an acoustic guitar and a voice with nice tone but not much range- whereas Ben played rock, folk, reggae, blues, jazz, gospel, motown, african-inspired, etc... and had the most beautiful voice and a range from deep and raspy to high falsetto... then I'd explain that it was Ben and his buddy/producer that helped discover Jack.

Maybe I was being a little too sensitive with the Ben/Jack comparison that people like to make... I know they are both popular with surf/beach crowds.... I guess I just didn't like it when people were suggesting that if you like this big superstar Jack Johnson you might like this little unknown guy named Ben Harper. I wanted Ben to get the credit he deserves.

Anyway... that big long rant has led me to say that on my first two listens, To the Sea is a really good effort by Jack Johnson. Do some of the songs sound really similar to each other? In my opinion, yes. Some even sound like previous Jack Johnson songs and you almost do a double-take thinking that you've heard the song before... but I think the lyrics are better/more diverse on this album than on In Between Dreams, where every song felt like a love song.

It's a nice, soft, summer-sounding album. I'm sure I'll put it on from time to time while bbqing out back or driving up to the beach. And I guess that's exactly what I expect (and maybe, want) from Jack Johnson.
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Re: To the Sea

Post  MCTolen on Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:09 pm

Hey Mojo,

I'm glad you're diggin' Jack's new album. It's been on regular rotation in my car ever since it came out. I think its his best he's put out since "On and On" and is more akin to "On and On" and his first album which made me a fan to begin with. I like the rough "off the cuff" sound to it and its more upbeat and less melancholy than his last album, but not so poppy as "In Between Dreams," which I also enjoyed but didn't stick with me like the first two albums. Plus, after "In Between Dreams" I couldn't help but get burned out on everyone suddenly "discovering" Jack Johnson and radio (as always) was starting to kill my fondness for Jack.
I do get what you're saying about the Ben and Jack comparisons. I'm WAY more of a Ben Harper fan and (no disrespect to Jack) but, Ben is in a whole different league. Sure, there may be a small handful of songs that have similarities, but that's it and its just the tip of the iceberg for Ben. I do think there is a common thread or ideal that comes through the music and appeals to Ben Harper and Jack Johnson fans as well as G. Love or Donavon Frankenreiter fans. They are all different in their own right, but with similar messages, a down to earth spirit and love of different styles of music which resonates in the same fans. I have often wondered what Ben thinks of Jack's mainstream success, despite the immense humility Ben always displays. I'm sure he's proud like a father or teacher who's child or student has grown up to be a big success. However, like you, I long to see Ben get his due as a great guitarist, singer, songwriter and trailblazer for the likes of Jack Johnson and many other artists present today. Yet, on the other hand, I am conflicted because I've seen so many other artists I loved and rooted for, break into the mainstream and never be the same. Either they completely loose their edge and what made them unique by making "safer" music or become pretentious trying to "push the envelope" or be something they're not. I actually really respect Jack Johnson for not changing or compromising his music. With his success there has been a lot of criticism in the biz for not being edgy enough or pressure to reinvent himself into some harder rocking electric guitarist. Instead, Jack just keeps doing what he does best and what he loves to do. He writes simple catchy songs with good messages, nothing more nothing less. Jack's new album "To the Sea" has really reinvigorated my fondness for Jack, I would definitely recommend it even if your interest in Jack Johnson had recently waivered. I'll still recommend Ben Harper to anyone, including Jack Johnson fans. However, I'm certainly not going to say they're the same.

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Re: To the Sea

Post  Nadine on Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:54 am

I went to the Jack Johnson concert in Amsterdam last night, and although I hadn't heard the new album yet: I must say these new songs were great live! Absolutely loved this one song, but I don't know the title.. Setlist anyone?! Wink Combined with you both being excited about the album, I'll have to hit the record store today Very Happy

Another huge difference between BH en JJ - in my humble opinion - is the way they play their live-shows... I never saw Jack Johnson live before last night, but it's as if you put on one of his cds, there's little room for solo's and stuff.. When I go to a concert I prefer the songs to be played somewhat different from the album, and Ben Harper never disappoints me on that part!
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