The Skinny: Who doesn’t like syrup on their pancakes? Jack Johnson is like sweet syrup. There really isn’t anything not to like about him or his music, unless you’re a more discerning listener who might consider his variety of high-quality, easy-listening acoustic rock a little boring, tired and overdone. On the other hand, Jack does gently caress a few other genres and that effort makes this album more interesting than it should be.
Sounds like: Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Anthony Kiedis, G. Love and Special Sauce
Deeper Thoughts: The biggest single on this debut album is “Flake.” This pop ditty with a touch of blues has mass appeal with a big hook that is not easily forgotten (even if you wanted to). “Fortunate Fool” is very simple, mildly bluesy and very palatable. “Drink the Water” touches on modern rock and has odd similarities to the song “Fascination Street” by The Cure. Jack’s vocals also sound a bit like Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis on many tracks (whether you like it or not). Neil Young’s influence shows up on “Losing Hope” with its dark enjoyable rhythm and talks of hope during hard times. All in all, Brushfire is a fine album — but you don’t have to like it.
The Sonics: Jack Johnson has a simple thing going on. Good songwriting, quality guitar playing, drums and percussion that keep the easy-going beat moving, but the star of the show is Merlo Podlewski on bass. When you listen to Brushfire Fairytales it’s very hard not to get caught up in the tasty laid-back bass lines that back up all the catchy little tracks. You’ll want to dial up some nice, subtle low-end thump to hear the bass come through when you’re listening to this disc.