Jack Johnson, "To The Sea"
The latest album from chronically laid-back surf-rocker Jack Johnson, "To the Sea," is so down-to-earth that it could only be recorded using 100% solar power. A natural progression from 2008 release "Sleep Through the Static," the new set features more electric guitars and a brighter, full-band sound while still bringing plenty of singalong acoustic romanticism and breezy melodies. The song "No Good With Faces" epitomizes the downbeat beach balladry and straightforward melodic approach that best showcase Johnson's unaffected style. The mood picks up with the full-band jam "At or With Me," which offers a different brand of feel-good that conjures images of summer barbecues. The acoustic-driven "Turn Your Love" is another Johnson standby, sweetened with background "ooohs" and the soothing plink of a ukulele, while the title track takes a turn with keys and a bouncy bass groove, breaking into some surprisingly bluesy, Hendrix-inspired guitar licks. --Connor McKnight