In Between Dreams

Studio Album by released in 2005

In Between Dreams review

Before Jack Johnson perfected his rock star ways, he was a champion surfer on the professional route. However, Johnson was also testing his other creative outlets – one being film and the other being music. Johnson steered away from a blossoming pro sports career and stuck with music – something that would soon earn him additional honors. His third album In Between Dreams arrived in March 2005.

Along the way, Johnson shows the uninitiated he's got all the ingredients to bake up some of the tastiest ballads out there. With its soft acoustic touches, tracks like No Other Way and Constellations achieve a perfect torchlit ambience. Other highlights include the lullaby-like Breakdown and the bossa nova rhythms of Do You Remember. Whether he's singing about being in love — which he does quite well on Better Together and Banana Pancakes — or reflecting on its hardships, Johnson's laid-back approach is his biggest strength. Johnson’s songs contain little catharsis (riding waves apparently takes care of that), instead offering the soft-spoken assertion that, even in this imperfect world, life is worth living, if only for its beautiful minutiae—love, friendship, banana pancakes and a sizable swell on a sunny California afternoon. Jack was never overly vocal about his social views, but he's never been quiet about them either. This time Johnson comments on his feelings about war in the song Crying Shame. The funky reggae feel of the song makes the song feel almost revolutionary but somehow fits perfectly on this album. Other tunes of particular mention are the single Sitting, Waiting, Wishing depicting a frustrated lover. In Good People Johnson tells of his frustration of scandal in the media and generally mindless television. If I Could is another of Johnson’s more haunting songs of a man who dies soon after a child is born.

When he does get around to picking up his old battered acoustic guitar, Johnson does a pretty nice job of recreating his tropical cool world for the listener. There's a little reggae touch here, some mild folk there, but mostly Johnson just excels at creating gentle background music that sways like the waves and feels twice as cool. With its sparse sound, Johnson, drummer Adam Topol and bassist Merlo Podlewski, craft a head bobbing 14-song set that's further proof the surfer/filmmaker/musician is happy writing fuzzy upbeat tunes that slide their way into your subconscious like slow rolling waves. And you've got to admire him. With three albums under his belt, Hawaii-based Johnson has carved a nice little niche for himself amongst the Phish/Dave Matthews/Ben Harper crowd with his cozy brand of acoustic-led pop. Its languid pace and overall sameness make the disc great background music. It's the kind of record that's best played while hanging around a campfire. Jack Johnson writes songs that just feel good. His smooth slap guitar style takes listeners away to a land of high tides and long sunsets.

In Between Dreams is a really great album to put on when you need a moment to breathe easy or a moment to reflect on life. For those of us without sandy beaches in our backyard Johnson offers a little taste beautifully while still keeping our hearts and mind in the equation.