Jack Johnson - All the Light Above It Too Album Review

Story posted September 12, 2017 in CommRadio by JonMichael Pereira

All The Light Above It Too just barely continues Jack Johnsons credibility in the world of acoustic soft rock. Since his breakout album Bushfire Fairytales debuting in 2001, Johnson has steadily maintained a consistent progression in popularity with albums such as Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George in 2006, Sleep Through the Static in 2008, To the Sea in 2010, and From Here to Now to You in 2013, all reaching number one on the Billboard 200. Johnson’s inclination to take new artistic chances within his music seems to be subdued by his preexisting equation for a successful album. This explains why All The Light Above It Too sustains an atmosphere of almost uncertain familiarity.

With the publication of Johnson’s seventh studio album, All The Light Above It Too, it looks as though the artist has lost his motivation to progress and has fallen victim to performing for his audience. Whereas his albums Bushfire Fairytales and In Between Dreams were suffused with a diverse array of fast-paced jams and slow passive hits, his newest album doesn’t share the same tastes. Instead, a few pieces are scattered within the album that can substitute as moderate hits for the artist, but the rest are all too forgettable.

While All The Light Above It Too is by no means a ground breaking piece in comparison to Johnsons impressive repertoire, it does still contain an acoustic arrangement that allows for a submersion into relaxation. The simplistic nature of the album beckons the listener to pause the calamities that impose on positive thought and allows a vacation in body and soul.

Throughout his composition of soft rhythmic tunes, Johnson manages to produce a culmination of standard messages that decipher to be rather valuable. For instance, the albums three most impressive pieces, “Sunsets For Somebody Else,” “My Mind Is For Sale” and “Fragments,” collectively produce an emphasis on the importance of inward self-analysis.

“Fragments” speaks of the destructive, irreversible symptoms years of pollution has taken on the environment. It explores humanities treatment of its habitat, as people love to live on this world, but hate to maintain its beauty. It’s one of the only songs within the album that speaks true to Johnson’s original core belief in preserving our ecosystem, a theme prevalent in all his previous pieces of work.

“My Mind Is For Sale” is Johnson’s obvious self-affliction with the 2016 United States Presidential Election. He uses this piece to speak of his troubles in accepting the outcome of the nation’s bureaucratic selection. With the use of sociopolitical issues such as the deep political parties divide as an example, Johnson warns of the negative inclinations that come with a divided nation and a divided mind. Johnson illustrates his imperative desire to maintain his own views even as others around him might begin to modify their own. This song does have several hypocritical connotations as Johnson is so preoccupied in demonstrating his displeasure with society,that he does not instruct us on how we can mend the cuts within it.

“Sunsets For Somebody Else” is hands down the strongest song on this album. Its lyrics are exceptionally thought provoking, its rhythmic patterns and soft acoustic melody is infectious and its concealed message is one that reminisces Johnson’s old work. It tells of the emotional desolation that comes with surrendering your dreams to the mundane repetitiousness of an ordinary life. Johnson gives the age-old analogy of counting sheep with the unexpected twist of equipping the sheep with teeth, therefore demonstrating how your dreams will eat at you no matter how hard you try to drive them to the depths of your sub-conscious.

In the middle of the album lies “You Can’t Control It” and “Daybreaks,” songs that border on relative brilliance, but just miss the mark. “You Can’t Control It” promotes Johnsons vocal range beautifully, creating within it an impressive self-harmony that is utilized to portray his connection to the ocean. “Daybreaks” imitates “You Can’t Control It” in speed and vocal range, but leads its own path in storytelling. It speaks of the inevitability of death, but the solace we find in nature and people.

The lower end of the album is notably unimportant. Songs such as “Subplot,” “Big Sur” and “Is One Moon Enough?” merely pass as pleasant, with lyrics indifferent to causing any serious reflection. Most of these songs feel as though they are recycled themes Johnson has previously used in his earlier albums. Even Johnson’s once uncontested ability to compose the highest pinnacle of tender love melodies has become stringent. “Love Song #16” contains lyrics that sound nearly identical to the unspecific, predictable, computer generated format utilized by the pop industry when developing love songs. 

At the bottom of the barrel resides the song “Gather,” which is basically a space filler on this album. “Gather” doesn’t seem to understand the tone of the album and clumsily destroys the soft easygoing cadence it previously had. With a culmination of horrendous instrumentals and a strange vocal performance by Johnson, it’s not hard to see why.

With all this in mind, this album is unquestionably average. It executes minimal risks and seemingly plays into the requests of the audience Jack Johnson has accumulated over the years. The album itself leaves the listener with minimal desire to re-listen, but has multiple songs within that assure an escape from reality and provides a passage to any tropical location.

Rating: 6/10 


 JonMichael Pereira is a freshman majoring in Telecommunications. To contact him, email jqp5759@psu.edu