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. . . . You take it on for me," he sings, then busts out an easygoing whistled refrain that radiates admirably hardearned chillness.
From The Archives Issue 1192: September 26, 2013