Album Review: From Here to Now to You by Jack Johnson
Fairly Good, Based on 5 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
On his 2013 album From Here to Now to You, the surfing soft rock superstar Jack Johnson continues the subtle shift in his sound that began on his previous album, To the Sea. Like he did there, Johnson again spices up the sweet and sleepy acoustic ballads that are his claim to fortune and fame with some songs that have a little more bubbly, uptempo pop in their DNA. He and his able band put some surprising bounce in lighthearted rockers like "Shot Reverse Shot" and "Washing Dishes"; give his tale of playing in punk bands as a teen, "Tape Deck," a nice shaggy loping feel; and get almost funky on the jam band-friendly "Radiate." These tracks give the album a few nice jolts of energy, though jolt may be the wrong word.
Jack Johnson is that guy that you play when you’re having a lazy chill out day, when the rain is pouring outside and you’re snuggled in your duvet; when you’re wondering lost around a city soaking in the atmosphere; or when you’re sitting with a loved one just quietly content in each others company. His music is for those special occasions, where it’s just you and the world, or you, the world and someone you’re close to. The title of his latest album sums this up completely: From Here to Now to You.
The last album from Jack Johnson, 2010's To the Sea, was a minor system shock, setting lyrics about his late father's life over stormy electric guitars. With help from former Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr., Johnson is back on sunnier acoustic ground here, exploring interesting open tunings on some of the crispest songs he's ever written. "Tape Deck" is a taut, buoyant reminiscence of playing Fugazi songs in a high school punk band (who knew?), and "I Got You" salutes his wife: "This weight is too much alone.
From Here To Now To You is Jack Johnson’s sixth album. Sixth! That’s six albums of “laid back surf folk” if you’re a glass half full sort of person. Or incessantly, irritatingly smug guitar twiddling if you’re not. Not one to veer from his signature sound, it’s business as usual, and From Here To Now To You is pretty much a more polished take on his debut, 2001’s Brushfire Fairytales.
Pop’s patron saint of chill stays true to his ingratiating acoustic music on his sixth record. Johnson doesn’t seem interested in stretching his sound with these 10 short songs. He continues to deliver enough melodic flair to support his earnest reflections on life’s little epiphanies. Songs like “I Got You,” with its simplistic sentiments (“I got you/ I got everything”), or “Never Fade” shouldn’t work, yet Johnson’s charm somehow makes them go down smoothly.