Born Jack Hody Jackson on 18th May, 1975, Jack Johnson is a world-renowned musician and surfer. He’s as multi-talented as they come, singing, playing guitar, piano and drums. He’s also an actor that’s appeared in films such as “The Smog of the Sea,” “Nice Guys Sleep Alone,” and “12”. Johnson has made a career for himself by making music influenced by his native Hawaii, even naming his record label Brushfire Records. Johnson has been playing music since his childhood and often played songs for his family, who encouraged him to record a demo tape. After graduating from the University of California with a degree in film, he released a surf movie, “Thicker Than Water,” which won several awards, capturing the attention of Hollywood producers and press. Soon after this, Johnson started performing overseas, where he was spotted by Ben Harper, who helped him produce his first album “Brushfire Fairy tales.” Since then, Johnson’s career has skyrocketed, releasing seven studio albums and selling over 20 million records worldwide. Now, let’s rank all of Johnson’s studio albums from worst to best, taking into consideration both critical and commercial success, how much we’ve enjoyed the record, and Johnson’s singing and songwriting abilities.
7. To the Sea (2010)
To the Sea is Jack Johnson’s fifth studio album, released on 26th May 2010 in Japan, 1st June 2010 in the US, and 31st May 2010 in the UK. The album debuted in number #1 in the US, selling more than 243 000 copies in its first week of release. It also debuted at #1 on the UK’s Albums Chart and has been certified Gold or Platinum in seven countries so far. In its first week of release, it sold over 770,000 copies worldwide. On this album, Johnson takes a different direction from his previous work. He uses more instruments than ever before, making for a much fuller sound. He also experiments with an alternative rock sound rather than the usual mellow folk/pop genre. The album still has its fair share of acoustic ballads, but Johnson also shows he can rock out on songs like “At or with Me” and slow it down with the beautiful “My Little Girl.” It isn’t easy to judge this album compared to Johnson’s earlier work. It has some great moments, but overall, it doesn’t have the same feel as his previous albums.
6. All the Light Above It Too (2017)
“All the Light Above it too” is jack Johnson’s latest release, released on 8th September 2017. The album was recorded at Mango Tree Studio in Johnson’s native Hawaii. While the album doesn’t hold up to Johnson’s earlier work, it still has some catchy tunes. For example, “Fragments” is a mid-tempo song with a catchy chorus and “Love Song #16” has a tropical island feel that we’ve come to expect from Johnson. The album also showcases Johnson’s softer side, with songs like “My Mind is for sale,” which gives off a mellow vibe and shows his ability as an artist. However, the problem is when you compare this album to Johnson’s other releases, some songs just feel unfinished. Also, some songs don’t really go anywhere and leave you feeling like they were just filler tracks (especially “Gather”).
5. Sleep Through the Static (2008)
“Sleep Through the Static” (2008) is jack Johnson’s fourth studio album, released on 5th February 2008. The album debuted at number #1 in the US and sold almost 180 000 copies by the second week. It also peaked in the top 10 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Scotland. This album is noticeably different from Johnson’s previous albums. It lacks the sunny island feels of Brushfire Fairytales or In between Dreams, and it doesn’t have the chill vibe of On and on. While this is disappointing to some fans, most listeners will agree that it has a more mature sound than previous albums. Johnson’s vocals are stronger than ever, and the music feels more developed. Many of this album’s songs give off a mellow vibe, perfect for a lazy day or background music or muzak while you work/study/write that novel you’ve been putting off for years.
4. From Here to Now to You (2013)
“From Here to Now to You” (2013) is Johnson’s sixth studio album, released on 17th September 2013. The album debuted at number 1 in the US and sold 117,000 copies in its first week of release. This album isn’t as solid as To the sea or Sleep Through the Static, but it has some standout tracks that were appropriate for release as singles. “I Got You” is a feel-good song that shows off Johnson’s vocal range and has a very radio-friendly pop sound to it. However, if you listen closely to the lyrics, this song has a profound message about staying positive through hard times.
3. On and On (2003)
“On and on” is Johnson’s second studio album, released in 2003. This album helped Johnson breakthrough into the mainstream market with several hit singles, including “Rodeo Clowns,” “Gone,” and “Taylor.” The album was certified platinum in the US, UK, and New Zealand and 4x platinum in Australia. In this album, Johnson produced a unique blend of folk and pop without sounding like he was ripping off the artists that influenced him (especially evident on “Rodeo Clowns”). Every song hits hard and will be stuck in your head for days. Despite having some upbeat songs, this album also has its fair share of mellow songs that just soothes your soul.
2. Bushfire Tales (2001)
“Bushfire Tales” is Johnson’s debut album, released on 1st February 2001 through Enjoy records (later renamed Everloving recording). The album was certified platinum in the US, selling more than 1 million copies. This album is what made the surfing troubadour famous. Its songs have a very mellow feel and are perfect for summer days or just whenever you need to relax. Johnson sets himself apart from his musical influences with unique guitar riffs and vocal melodies that will have you humming along all day long.
1. In Between Dreams (2005)
“In Between Dreams” is Johnson’s third studio album, released on 1st March 2005. This album was recorded in Hawaii, in Mango Tree Studio, and released under Bushfire records. It would receive a lot of mixed reviews from critics. But overall, it achieved considerable commercial success. The album would be certified platinum in the US, Australia, and Canada. This is Johnson’s most popular album for a reason. First, it’s because he has really found his style, and it shows through in every song. Despite being classified as folk, there are still hints of pop melodies scattered throughout each track. While some fans were disappointed with the slight change in sound, this album is a good combination of Johnson’s folk and pop backgrounds.