City Pulse

By Katie Calautti

Though he doesn’t like to be considered an environmentalist (a title too official, in his eyes), musician Jack Johnson sure acts like one.

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A humble member of countless organizations and causes, the Oahu, Hawaii native and former surf film creator has contributed to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, the Red Cross and the Kokua Hawaii Foundation (a program that promotes environmental appreciation amongst school-aged children through interactive programs). To boot, his tour bus runs on bio-diesel fuel (a reusable, environmentally-safe material), and – with the release of his fourth album, Sleep Through the Static, Johnson has upped the ante.

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The album was recorded using 100% solar energy, and is printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper. It also carries the 1% For The Planet logo (dedicated to an organization that Johnson has been a member of since 2004, comprised of businesses and individuals who donate 1% of their sales to environmental causes around the world.)

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And if the purchase of Sleep Through the Static doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy, the contents certainly will.

Johnson is heavily influenced by his Hawaiian roots – his sound is a melding of laid-back, Reggae and Island-style tunes that will transform your mood (even on a packed subway train during your morning commute – trust me). He avoids singing about anguish or negativity, instead playing the part of introspective surfer – imparting wisdom and refreshingly good vibes through his guitar and vocal-heavy riffs. In short: his music is a guaranteed upper.

All of the things that drew me to Johnson’s three previous albums (Brushfire Fairytales, On and On and In Between Dreams, respectively) have me hooked on Sleep Through the Static. I dig Johnson’s soothing voice, evocative lyrics (just heavy enough to be light, if that makes any sense) and oasis-in-the-concrete-desert-creating melodies.

Some stand-out’s on Static include opener “All At Once” (where he bemuses, Sometimes it feels/Like a heart/Is no place/To be singin’/From at all – but contemplates inspirationally that There’s a world/We’ve never seen/There’s still hope/Between the dreams), “Angel” (which was presumably written for his wife – a simple, sweet love song), “Hope” (promising that You don’t/Always/Have to hold your head/Higher than your heart), and “Go On” (probably the only optimistic song I’ve ever heard about two people parting ways.)

To learn more about Johnson, check out www.jackjohnsonmusic.com.

Originally published April 2008
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