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Killer CDs: Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams 
By Eric Bodrero

When one thinks of catchy melodies and pure guitar pop, the name Jack Johnson inevitably turns up sooner or later, which is kind of surprising, given he never really set out to make music, and was perfectly content making and editing surf films in his native Oahu, Hawaii. But for the last few years you’ve been hearing his name probably at least once a day on the radio, and he has had a huge following since his debut Brushfire Fairytales.

Good friends with Garrett Dutton, otherwise known as G. Love (of G. Love and Special Sauce), Jack wrote and played on “Rodeo Clowns” from G. Love’s Philadelphonic, but ironically, was G. Love’s first and only hit from that album. Now, three studio albums later with the release of In Between Dreams, we find Johnson still whipping out the laid-back but resourceful vocals and making love to his guitar with a certain introspective that you can’t help but getting caught up in.

The pace is immediately set with the opener “Better Together” in which Johnson’s carefree approach to vocals and the crisp, clean guitar strums positions the rest of the record in a familiar foreshadowing. What follows is a mesmerizing thirteen tracks of poetic justice served up with a heaping helping of captivating guitar pop, ending with “Constellations,” arguably his most melodic song to date.

Jack Johnson uses his same time-tested method on In Between Dreams used on his previous records: making you turn your head so fast that your neck crackles and pops, holding it there until the last high-hat and string-pluck has ended, then doing it again on the next track, and so on and so forth until, forty minutes later, you have a serious case of whiplash and a bizarre desire to do it all over again.

Johnson sings about a number of things here, including rainy days indoors, the giddiness of finding a new love, and the demoralizing effect of watching TV. But no matter what he sings about, you can bet on hearing about it under a bed of almost hushed vocals, even when his songwriting turns into a “screw you” session as in “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing.” 

Those who have virgin ears to Jack Johnson’s music or who have put off buying any of his records will probably find In Between Dreams an enticing and superlative “how-do-you-do”, and for fans, a must-have. While not necessarily breaking any new ground here, In Between Dreams still captivates and holds it’s audience enslaved to the record’s superb sound and smart sense of songwriting. This is an instant classic.

CD Info 

Jack Johnson - In Between Dreams
Label: Universal Records (USA)
Better Together
Never Know
Banana Pancakes
Good People
No Other Way
Sitting, Waiting, Wishing
Staple It Together
Crying Shame
If I Could
Do You Remember
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