Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson brings new tunes to Cali Vibes – Orange County Register
A lot has changed for Jack Johnson since he was a college student writing songs for his debut album Brushfire Fairytales in 2001. Far from living with six college roommates, he has been married to his wife Kim for more than 20 years and they have three children.
A former pro surfer — at age 17 he was the youngest invitee to reach the Pipeline Masters finals — Johnson now seeks out big waves near his home in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, just for recreation.
He left behind his early ventures in filmmaking to become a hugely successful musician. His previous seven albums have sold a total of 25 million copies and he regularly makes headlines in large outdoor amphitheatres.
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But the ambition he has for each of his albums hasn’t changed.
“When I did my first my wife and I drove and I have this memory of where we heard it and it was the first time I heard a final mix and I thought I want to change this and that and the other but I had to let it go,” Johnson said during a phone interview before playing a special Sunday night set at the three-day Cali Vibes Music Festival, taking place Feb. 17-19 at Marina Green Park in Long Beach.
“I remember saying to her how good it is, it’s not the best album of all time, but I hope it’s someone’s favorite album,” he continued. “I’m not trying to get more numbers or anything like that. I hope someone still holds that and says, ‘Hey, this is my favorite so far.’ So that would be the only thing I want to top on any album, that it’s someone’s favorite.”
The “this” Johnson mentions is his eighth album, Meet The Moonlight, and chances are some fans will consider it their favorite Johnson album.
“Meet The Moonlight,” which was released in June, introduces a significant new collaborator to Johnson’s world in singer-songwriter and producer Blake Mills. The pair got the ball rolling with a test run at Los Angeles’ Sound City Studios, which produced a few tracks and convinced them to move forward with the project. They then reunited at Johnson’s Hawaii studio, where most of the album came together and Mills and Johnson developed a close working partnership.
“All the producers that I’ve worked with have been amazing,” Johnson said. “They don’t tend to play music on the record. They mostly listened and made suggestions while Blake played every single track on the entire album in one way or another. We started almost every song by sitting across from each other with two guitars pointing in different directions.
“Even though we didn’t always know where we were going with the track, we always started with the two guitars,” he continued. “And the way he plays would kind of improve what I play. I think he’s such a supportive player. He’s a great guitarist who he can be as flashy on as he wants, but he listens to the song and always finds a part that supports what I’m playing and elevates it a little. It was really nice to work with him.”
In the end, Mills not only played guitars on the album, but added percussion, bass, steel drums, organ and Moog synth parts at various points. To top it off, Johnson had his touring band of keyboardist Zach Gill, drummer Adam Topol and bassist Merlo Podlewski come to EastWest Studios in Los Angeles to add various parts to the tracks.
“Meet The Moonlight” fits well with Johnson’s other albums as it features 10 laid-back and highly melodic songs that mix folk, pop and island music. While the largely acoustic songs may seem sparse and even simple at first, they’re filled with a variety of instrumental touches and catchy tunes that add considerable interest.
Lyrically, “Meet The Moonlight” draws on issues such as the pandemic and the political and social divisions in society, while retaining a sense that people can find hope, calm, and even consensus and joy in difficult times.
“I’ve tried to focus on some of the bigger issues and not get too attached to the issue of the pandemic, for example,” he said. “That wouldn’t make a song all that interesting, or it’s not a very long-lived theme. Instead, I look at things like empathy. I think empathy was a big goal for me to consider on this album. I feel like the world needs more of that right now.”
Cali Vibes Music Festival
If: noon 17-19 February
Where: Marina Green Park, 400 E Shoreline Drive, Long Beach
Tickets: $140 general admission ticket for one day; $330 three-day pass; $195 VIP for one day; $465 three-day VIP; $525 Beach Club Day Passes. All tickets are available at calivibesfest.com.
https://www.ocregister.com/2023/02/14/singer-songwriter-jack-johnsons-bringing-new-tunes-to-cali-vibes/ Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson brings new tunes to Cali Vibes – Orange County Register