live ’n’ loud: Jack John­son gets From Here To Now To You......

Jack John­son is more mel­low than ever, writes Chris Tal­bott

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

WANT to hear the sound of pure con­tent­ment? Pop on the new Jack John­son al­bum. If you thought the Hawaii-based folk-rock singer was ul­tra­mel­low be­fore, wait un­til you hear From Here To Now To You. ‘‘I write about what­ever it is that’s on my mind,’’ he says. ‘‘This record has been a lot of just sort of be­ing in the fam­ily in just kind of my own lit­tle bub­ble. Drop­ping the kids off at school and just day-to-day life, just wash­ing the dishes, work­ing in the gar­den, tak­ing the trash out.

‘‘That’s not nec­es­sar­ily what the songs are about but that’s kind of where I was liv­ing, in that space.’’

It’s a very com­fort­able space. From Here To Now To You is John­son’s sixth al­bum and moves away from the darker, more elec­tric-ori­ented mu­sic on his last two al­bums, which were filled with songs af­fected by the deaths of his fa­ther and a cousin. There’s a gen­tle, rolling rhyth­mon the al­bum’s 12 tracks with a hand­ful of love songs aimed at his wife and oth­ers ex­am­in­ing fa­ther­hood. There’s even one called Wash­ing Dishes.

The songs were mostly writ­ten on an acous­tic gui­tar on John­son’s front porch of his house at Oahu, Honolulu, recorded in his stu­dio and cre­ated with his friends, in­clud­ing his long­time band mem­bers, Ben Harper and pro­ducer Mario Caldato Jr, who recorded John­son’s sec­ond and third al­bums in the mid-2000s.

The process mim­icked the way he started, be­fore his plat­inum de­but, Brush­fire Fairy­tales. ‘‘Mu­sic’s al­ways been about shar­ing to me,’’ John­son says. ‘‘The first chords I ever learned were ba­si­cally so we could do Bob Mar­ley songs on the front porch – and The Bea­tles and Cat Stevens. So when I started writ­ing my own, it was the same thing, about shar­ing. Ev­ery­body’s singing to­gether . . .

‘‘It’s a very nice feel­ing. It’s spir­i­tual, you know. So I do like it. But I can have too much of it and I can de­cide I don’t need it for a while.’’

Which is what hap­pened af­ter he fin­ished the tour for his last al­bum. John­son sim­ply un­plugged. And when he re­turned to the stu­dio, he stayed that way, keep­ing it mostly acous­tic.

And if things didn’t feel right, he just shut it down, set­ting songs aside that didn’t res­onate within the group or that grew dif­fi­cult to tame in the stu­dio. ‘‘It’s like we’ve al­ways talked about as a band,’’ he says. ‘‘That term easy lis­ten­ing can have kind of a cheesy con­no­ta­tion for peo­ple but we’ve al­ways wanted to make our mu­sic easy on the ears. We’re never re­ally go­ing for that kind of edgy thing that’s kind of like break­ing new bound­aries. We’ve al­ways felt part of a tra­di­tion, kind of like folk bar­be­cue or some­thing. We just try to go in and do the sim­plest form of the song we can and just make it easy on the ears.’’

From Here To Now To You is out now. Jack John­son plays the Con­cert Hall at QPAC, in Bris­bane, on De­cem­ber 14.

Amer­i­can surf folk-rock favourite Jack John­son re­turns to Aus­tralia armed with new songs from his new al­bum, From Here To Now To You

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