Jack Johnson’s new album highlights social issues with beach-rock tunes

Emma Turner

Jack Johnson sits on stairs with guitar.
(Photo courtesy of Austin O’Brien)

College may teach people how to think, but Jack Johnson’s new album gives them something to think about.

All the Light Above It Too” seems to question many aspects of the world and within it, human interactions. Each song makes a claim about the current state of humanity, society or the individual and often offers solutions to problems in those arenas. The album was released on September eighth and is Jack Johnson’s seventh studio album. Much like the last six, the sounds of this set are easy-going and rhythmic. “All the Light Above It Too” gives off classic Jack Johnson vibes while posing new and relevant questions to the listener.

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According to YouTube, Jack Johnson is classified as a rock artists. However, his time on the professional surf circuit yields a beachside feel to the majority of his work. The Hawaii-native chose to pursue other passions after a competitive surfing accident. Film and cinematography brought him to the University of California, Santa Barbara where he worked with a team to produce a surfing documentary called “Thicker Than Water” that was released in 1999. Shortly after, Johnson gained recognition for both his directing and songwriting talents. His first album, “Brushfire Fairytales,” was released in 2001 and reached platinum sales in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Since this initial success, Johnson has continued to please audiences with laid back tunes.

“All the Light Above It Too” was likely inspired in part by Johnson’s time filming “The Smog of the Sea.” This documentary, co-produced by Jack Johnson, follows a research crew through the Sargasso Sea as they look at the way plastics have invaded marine life and ecosystems in the ocean. Johnson, along with Keith and Dan Malloy who worked alongside Johnson on “Thicker Than Water,” sailed with the team on their quest shown in the documentary. What must only have been an insightful experience, quite likely drew Johnson to new conclusions about why these threats exist. His album seems to put into perspective problems that exist for individuals and communities and how those compare with larger scale issues.

The focal point and highest rated song on the album according to iTunes is “My Mind is For Sale.” This song calls into question imperfections of society. One lyric that particularly stands out is, “How many likes I gotta get, Before I know the truth, And the truth is, Season three will be a great reason, To forget all about reality’s, A slippery slope.” This touches on the distractions offered by society which can keep individuals from noticing or thinking about issues that actually affect the world. There are bigger worries than someone’s Facebook “likes” or the events in an episode of any television show.

All songs on the album offer a steady rhythm and often a catchy tune. The set continues a familiar pattern of relaxing music. It may not be the definition of rock music, but “All the Light Above It Too” will please thinkers and Jack Johnson fans.

Album Title: All the Light Above It Too

Artist: Jack Johnsons

Length: 10 Songs, 38 minutes

Where to Buy it: iTunes

Collegian reporter Emma Turner can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @EmmaTurner1228