Jack Johnson "All the Light Above It Too"

The collision of climate change and political turmoil has created an environment sure to illicit reaction from musicians, particularly those who have invested in ecological concerns. Jack Johnson has long been an environmental activist, a man tied to the land and sea in lifestyle and career. As a professional surfer and musician he has addressed issues involving the state of the planet. This year he released a short documentary film “Smog of the Sea” which featured the song “Fragments.” It also appears on this release.

All the Light Above It Too was recorded at Mango Tree Studios in Hawaii shortly after last year’s presidential election. Johnson’s feelings about the results are apparent in his lyrics. More obvious is his abiding concern for the environment. Johnson wrote most of the material while spending time camping in remote locations. That close contact with nature impacts the singer’s perspective, language, and even the languid atmosphere of the material. Johnson worked with producer and long-time friend Robbie Lackritz to create immediacy in the recording. His raw sketches for song went through little change and even less production in the transfer from the real world to the studio. Arrangements are simple, acoustic, and laidback, even when the topics are critical.

The album’s cover conveys Johnson’s concern for the ocean that surrounds his Hawaiian home. Johnson reclines on the beach, guitar within reach, surrounding by enormous amounts of plastic garbage washed up on the shore. It’s a sobering portrait that drives home the album’s themes.

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)