Surfer, Filmmaker, Musician: this Hawaiian born 31 year old has accomplished a lot in the last couple of years with poignant acoustic guitar based melodies that taunt you with the fact you’re not socializing with friends at an isolated campfire.
Jack Johnson’s latest release is the musical companion to the motion picture Curious George. With a little help from some friends (Matt Costa, Ben Harper and more) Jack Johnson is able to put out a soundtrack to a family movie without the songs sounding too “childish”. Although sometimes it is easy to pinpoint certain lyrics that make you consider just giving the album to your 7 year old sibling for a birthday present.
Songs like ‘The 3 R’s’ (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) are almost offensive because of the immaturity and the attempt to be treated as if you were too ignorant to know anything about the environment in the first place. But then after considering that this is a soundtrack to a G rated animated family film you come to accept the infantile behavior in songs like ‘Jungle Gym’, ‘Sharing Song’ and start to enjoy the simplicity in the lyrics and begin to sing-a- long to songs 10 minutes ago you thought belonged in a stereo played at naptime in a daycare. Of course the usual Jack Johnson signature sound is mixed in the track listing, with the memorable calming choruses that you assume is the top single of the album ‘Upside Down’, which has become the most popular and dominant song of the album. Songs like ‘Broken’ resembles heart warming and touching music from his previous album In Between Dreams.
Like the title of the album says ‘Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies’ the album can make you tap your sandals to the beat of the soft drum beats or make you feel like your going through a strange mid life crisis when you haven’t even reached 20 years of age. In this case the soundtrack seems to be more popular then the film and more successful, but how could it not be? Jack Johnson does a great job creating music that is supposed to be parallel to the motion picture but clearly out does it by far. The soft voices of Jack Johnson and friends mixed with musically visible and impressive harmonies make the album what it is, more than just a soundtrack but a great companion to Jack Johnson’s past releases.
In the end the CD is a gratifying piece of musicianship. But don’t be fooled, selected songs on the single disc can partially make you annoyed at first then feel like a pre-pubescent Holden Caulfield (read Catcher In The Rye) which you feel the need to stick your head out of the car window to feel the breeze that the album seems to create all on its own.