The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, June 20, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Jack Johnson's 'All the Light Above It Too' is just as laid-back as expected

“All the Light Above It Too,” Jack Johnson’s seventh studio album, is exactly what we’ve come to expect from him. That laid-back, easygoing voice set over a mellow guitar riff and an occasional maraca are all there, but this time it wasn’t enough to grab my attention, much less keep it. 

The songs mostly sound the same and rarely deviate from his signature singer-songwriter sound, almost making it feel like you’ve got the same song on repeat by the time you get halfway through the album. However, there is one exception near the end, in “Gather,” which incorporates conga drums and a funky baseline into an eclectic arrangement that leaves the listener wondering why there isn’t more of this on the record.

Don’t let his soothing guitar style trick you though — Johnson had something to say with this album. From the opener “Subplots,” he shows a contrast between his relaxing guitar and charged lyrics as he calls out our society’s self-absorption, saying, “All the light under the sun / All the light above it too / It don’t shine for you.” 

A few songs later in “My Mind Is for Sale,” a politically-driven outcry, he unmistakably calls out Donald Trump saying, “I don’t care for your paranoid ‘us against them’ walls.” This serves as evidence that he’s moved past his days of singing about banana pancakes. 

Of course, it couldn’t really be considered a Jack Johnson album if there wasn’t at least one love song. “Love Song #16” puts Johnson’s poetic ability on display, and he almost makes it look too easy. 

I had hoped to see a different side of Jack Johnson in this album, which I still think exists, but I found myself listening to generic tunes that take few risks and seem to follow his well-known formula. To say the record was a bad one would be overly harsh, but it lacked any memorable qualities or sense of originality. 

@joe_keys

arts@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.