It has been over 4 years since Jack Johnson released a full album, and thankfully he’s back. Within All the Light Above It Too, the artist masterfully crafts important messages in a way that is easier to receive than perhaps other delivery methods.
“My Mind is For Sale” was released prior to the album to provide insight on what is to come. Many outlets, including Rolling Stone magazine, state that this single was inspired by the election of Donald Trump and all that has happened since. He includes lyrics such as “I heard we’re changing lanes, I heard he likes to race,” as well as “His mouth begins to move, those hateful words he uses” to demonstrate the dissatisfaction he has for the current leader.
Johnson uses the chorus of “My Mind is For Sale” to construct a clever music video. The repeated lyric, “I don’t care for your paranoid ‘Us against them’ fearful kind of walls,” is written on a wall of blocks which he destroys. Knocking down the walls during his lyrical music video demonstrates his continual disagreement with the President’s policies, including building a border wall.
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The album opens up with track “Subplots” where Johnson describes the process of removing unnecessary aspects from our lives as the sun will still “rise and shine…it don’t shine for you.” This subtly points to the idea of decluttering one’s life or else we may be slowed down unnecessarily while the days continue to come and go.
Similarly, “Daybreaks” touches on “nothing for keeps,” emphasizing the idea that we must act in a way to not allow night to fall “on all our decisions, all our plans and all our ambitions.” Again, the theme that days come and go like clockwork is continuous in this album, and Johnson uses these two tracks to encourage a sense of ambition and motivation to act in ways beneficial for ourselves and others.
“Sunsets for Somebody Else” speaks of the pressures society has placed on citizens to make something out of themselves. Especially in this fast paced society, Johnson questions whether or not “this world can afford to sleep anymore.” Within this track, the artist feels the pressure himself with the lyrics of “recounting for this mess” and loss as we are moving too fast and not making the right things count.
While Johnson touched on many social and political issues, there is still room for his sweetheart. “Love Song #16” shows the beauty of his relationship through lovingly thanking his wife for keeping him on his feet when clearly she already had a solid blueprint for her dreams. “And when [they] were already 15 love songs deep” this sixteenth ballad displays the ongoing love and appreciation Johnson still holds for the love of his life.
To wrap up the album, “Fragments” summarizes an exhibition that Johnson was asked to be a part of, consisting of a week-long journey throughout the Sargasso Sea. The new movie about the exhibition, Smog of the Sea, features his song as they embark to discover the vast amount of plastic and waste in distant waters.
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Even without seeing the film, Johnson is quite vocal within this track as he speaks of “fragments of the sea,” meaning the plastic floating in the remote waters as a result of humanities disinterest in preserving nature.
Overall, Johnson delivers a message of concern in social and political issues without harshness.
His lyrics are unique and creative, providing an enjoyable environment to listen and learn about important issues.