In Between Dreams

Hawaii native Jack Johnson, a professional surfer and filmmaker in addition to a singer/songwriter, continues his seemingly never-ending talent showcase with this third album (not including soundtracks). The mellow and unpretentious Johnson, quite casually, makes his songcraft seem remarkably easy. As In Between Dreams attests, he knows how to toss off a catchy and inviting tune. And one always has the sense of being swept away to a tropical beach party bonfire, with your buddy Jack simply strumming away amongst happy friends.

Which is not to suggest that Johnson's music lacks substance. The song "Good People," for example, echoes "The News" off his debut in its bitter critique of TV programming. "Where'd all the good people go?" Johnson asks. "I've been changing channels/I don't see them on the TV shows." He concludes about our TV-oriented culture: "We got heaps and heaps of what we sow."

The recent birth of a son has sent some of Johnson's muse homeward bound. On songs such as "Banana Pancakes," Johnson's domestic bliss is evident. "When the whole world fits inside of your arms/don't really need to pay attention to the alarm," Johnson observes.

In "No Other Way," though, Johnson describes himself and his wife being kept awake at night with fears of the future and its unknown peril. His reassurance is the simple togetherness of the relationship, as he tells her, "Know that if I knew all of the answers, I would not hold them from you."

Johnson also fleshes out his sound a small bit further on this album. "Staple It Together" shows Johnson getting a little but more funky, "Good People" and "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" adds some piano to the standard guitar, bass and drum arrangements. The short number "Belle" even has an accordian and Johnson singing in French.

In Between Dreams is a very enticing album, with irrepressibly catchy melodies and a terrific mellow vibe. Warm ocean breeze not included.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director