on January 27, 2003
Being a person whose favourite genres of music are Soul and Avant-garde Jazz, sometimes a break is needed from the ever-amazing art created by soul artists and the mad cacaphony of white noise created by avant-gardists. Increasingly, I am a fan of the acoustic guitar in it simplicity, especially if it is one of only a few instruments. Singer/Songwriter James Taylor springs to mind as an artist who I really enjoy listening to. He can make you calm after a storm just by playing his guitar and singing a song with his soothing voice.
An artist who I discovered while talking to some surfer friends was Jack Johnson. I decided to give him a go, and I found his album to be just the thing I was looking for. With his trio of guitar, bass and drums, this is a real acoustic album through and through. Brushfire Fairytales is like a cross between James Taylor's mellow singer/songwriter work and the slightly more upbeat work of Ben Harper (only slightly). Even Jack's singing style is like a fusion of the two.
The album is simply amazing based simply on its merits; simplicity. It is an feat in minimalism that this album can hold your attention without the commercial smoke and mirrors of more poppish acoustic rock. Also, Jack is an artist who has something to say in his sometimes cryptic lyrics. He only brings in a little help on Flake, using Ben Harper and Tommy Jordan. Inaudible Melodies, Posters, Sexy Plexi, Flake, Bubble Toes and The News are my favourites.
Some criticise this album for its lack of variation. Sure; he seems to stay in a fairly steady pace and sound, but I have heard jazz albums with less variation that are celebrated masterpieces (Kind of Blue for all it brilliance is pretty much easy going all the way through; John Coltrane's Ascension is madness all the way through [it is one song though]). The point is that he makes good music, writes his own songs, plays guitar and is appealing enough to make it to the Billboard Top 100 albums chart. In other words he is the best of both worlds; a popular artist who is actually talented.
I hope that he has considerable fame and success based on his talent and that he will continue to make excellent music like this for years to come.
on February 25, 2003
I first heard Jack Johnson on a bootlegged live recording. The quality was horrible, but something about it compelled me to go out and buy his cd. For me, this is very unusual. But there was just something about Johnson's mellow sound that made me feel good. And Brushfire Fairytales is no exception. From start to finish, the cd makes me want to drive down to the beach and just enjoy the little things in life. The best part about it is that Jack's lyrics will also make you think. Songs like "The News", "Posters", and "It's All Understood" will leave you saying, "Yeah, I've felt that way before!" but maybe never vocalized it. Jack tends to pick up on those little things that some of us have trouble putting into words. That's one of my favorite things about him. That and his complex phrasing. The rhythmic vocals fit perfectly with the guitar, bass, and drums. It's almost like he uses his voice as another percussion instrument at times.
I must say that this is one of the best debut albums I've heard in a long time. (The last one that comes to mind is Pearl Jam's Ten) Jack is truly inspirational and I hope he continues to make music even though he's a surfer at heart.
on November 20, 2001
It has taken me a while to review this album, because I have had a hard time coming up with the words that would express the joy I feel everytime I listen to this album. This is not just an excellent debut album. This is the kind of album that I almost couldn't see an artist top.... but with such beautiful songwriting and instrumentation, how could this be a fluke?
Ever since I bought this album, it has been in my cd player - and will remain there. This could be the perfect folk/alternative album. There are no low points, at all. Sure some songs are better than others, but every track has a wonderful sound all its own - with a message all its own.
As I mentioned at the top, the songwriting is fantastic. Songs like Losing Hope and The New are perfect examples of just how wonderfully Jack writes songs with emotion. The instrumentation throughout is perfect - full bodied where it needs to be (Inaudible Melodies) and sparce where it needs to be (Losing Hope, Fortunate Fool).
This album's standout songs are definately Inaudible Melodies, Flake, Fortunate Fool, The News, Mudfootball, and Losing Hope - but as I mentioned eariler, there is nothing here that is not amazing in its own way.
EVERYONE should own this album. I have 1500+ albums, and a very eclectic taste in music. Before finding this wonderful album, my favorite album was Marvin Gaye's classic, Let's Get It On. I am very choosy on what I consider a classic - and this is!
on May 29, 2001
I came across Jack Johnson's music purely by accident. My friend and I were watching Blue Torch TV, and they were showing something about a surfing video. Johnson just happened to be the one who provided all the music for the video, and they played a few samples. My friend and I were immediately hooked. Ever since then, I've been telling everyone I know about his music. If Ben Harper is the next big thing (and I believe he is), then Jack Johnson is right there behind him. If you're sitting on the fence, trying to decide whether to buy this album, hop on down on my side and find out what I'm talking about. I guarantee that if you like good music like Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, and G Love and The Special Sauce, then you will totally dig Jack Johnson. And since he's relatively unknown still, you'll have the pleasure of turning all your friends on to his music. And not only is this album excellent, but he sounds absolutely amazing live. I had the pleasure of seeing him open for Ben Harper last night, and it's a night I won't soon forget. If either of these guys comes to your town, you cannot miss the show! And in the meantime, buy their albums and enjoy some wonderful music.
on April 26, 2001
According to the bio on Jack Johnson's web site, he's "sort of low key and saves time by keeping his hair short and not bothering much with outfits or the mirror." Apparently this local artist has used that extra time to create music that has converted fans everywhere in just a short amount of time. He was born on Oahu and is a surfer and film-school graduate. His slow reggae-style acoustic melodies include smooth ballads and jamming rhythms with calm, soulful lyrics. His music makes me want to surf, hang out, and play my own guitar. He has worked with Ben Harper, who is featured on slide guitar in "Flake," the fifth track on the album. The two have toured together. Johnson also appears in surf movies "September Sessions" and "Thicker Than Water" - he is amazingly talented! The first time I heard his music I knew I had to have it for myself!!!!
on March 14, 2003
There really aren't words to describe Jack Johnson's debut album, Brushfire Fairytales. As a fan of all music, from Pink Floyd to Nas, I can honestly say that this album is truly incredible and accessible to almost any audience.
I didn't discover this album until the song Flake hit the radio, and I found it for a low price so I decided to check it out. It is now one of my 5 favorite CDs out of about 400 that I own. Not only is there not one bad song on the entire album, there isn't even an average song. The lyrical maturity that Johnson displays througout this album is one that artists rarely reach in a full career. Throughout the course of this album you will be schooled on Jack's views on love, the news and how it's brought to us, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, and even subliminal references to the Bible (you didn't really think that last verse on It's All Understood was about any random book did you?). You will be finding little hidden gems that Johnson places in his lyrics and music months after you buy the album. It is, by far, the deepest album that I have ever owned.Johnson's guitar skills are not mindblowing, but they are still very good. He is no Eric Clapton, but his style fits the overall feel of the album perfectly.
No matter what kind of mood you're in, this album will supplement it perfect. Highlights of the album include Flake, It's All Understood, Inaudible Melodies, and Fortunate Fool. However, every song is amazing in it's own way.
on May 7, 2001
Jack Johnson is a perfect blend of musical styles with catchy hooks, thoughtful and sometimes funny lyrics, and an unbelieveable groove. His music combines the bluesy rock of Ben Harper, songwriting of dave matthews, and the feel good surfer vibe of Sublime. With the first listen, you'll find yourself moving to the music and wrapped up in the songs. It's the type of album you'll want to share with friends. Recently, I saw him at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, and his live show does not disappoint. Please give this CD a listen, you'll be absorbed by his mellow sound.
on June 30, 2002
Jack Johnson got such a great start because of his surfing followers on the west coast. Thankfully, he became so successful that I got to hear him in the middle of the U.S.
If you can't decide whether or not to buy this cd, I highly recommend it. So far, everyone that I have recommended it to has loved it. Every song is very catchy and has its own tune. All of Jack's songs are so pure and come from the heart. I just bought this cd for the third time because I lost it twice before. With any other cd, I would not have considered buying it again. This cd never grows old....
Every song is great, but my favorites are: Inaudible Melodies, Posters, Flake and Losing Hope. Some other artists that I like are: Ben Harper, John Mayer, Dispatch, Howie Day and G. Love.
on June 20, 2005
For those of you who have negatively reviewed the music and style of Jack Johnson, there exist but a few simple matters to discuss with you. First of all, I generally do not review anything online because I am not afforded the time, but with the general problem with those who have touted Mr. Johnson as unoriginal and thoroughly boring (missing the point) compelled me to make an exception. On occasion in our world, there is the rare individual who can see the simplicity and beauty of any situation, and can also offer wise and yet unscathing criticisms of societal issues. Mr. Johnson is such an individual; those who criticize him fail to see that he is not trying to outperform his predecessors or to shake the world with any outlandish originality. He simply presents a pure, laid-back view of the world from a better vantage point than any modern punk-rock corporate sellout or moral-less rap artist could. The simplicity of his music, and the ease with which it plays, is to be admired in an increasingly complex and decaying society. Anyone who wishes to ease back and reflect on life in a healthy way, purchase any of Jack Johnson's albums.
on June 1, 2005
I bought this album because I liked the songs I heard from Jack on the radio. the thing is, (and this is a rarity these days), is that the radio singles are actually the worst ( if i can even say that about this album) songs on this record. By far, this and Jack's other two releases, "On and On", and "In Between Dreams", are the definitive sounds of summer. If you are choosing between his cds, I would reccommend them in this order:
1. On and On
3. In Between Dreams
And there ya go.