Picks and Pans Review: 'On and On'

Jack Johnson (Moonshine Conspiracy)

With his smooth-riding second album, which opened impressively at No. 3 on the Billboard chart, former pro surfer Jack Johnson proves wrong those who thought he might wipe out after his 2001 debut, Brushfire Fairytales. The Hawaii native, who brings to mind a more mellow Ben Harper (with whom he is touring this summer), effortlessly delivers funk-folk ditties that are as soothing as a Honolulu breeze. Surrounding his rootsy acoustic guitar only with rhythmic bass and gentle percussion, Johnson keeps things simple on these concise cuts (12 of 16 songs are less than three minutes long; the sweet but shallow “Cupid” is barely one minute). With his airy, casually bluesy voice, Johnson even brings a light touch to lyrics about such heavy subjects as war on the country-tinged “Traffic in the Sky.” Sometimes, though, his relaxed approach feels a bit too laid-back; some of these tracks seem slight and few stay with you after repeated spins. Still, this is music tailor-made for a lazy day at the beach.

BOTTOM LINE: A worthy dude

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