Jack Johnson And Friends
Sing-A-Longs And Lullabies for the film Curious George
It is testament to the rise of Jack Johnson that he was chosen to produce the soundtrack to "Curious George" (which features the talents of Will Ferrell and Drew Barrymore), with 2005's "In Between Dreams" album making him one of the success stories of the year on both sides of the Atlantic. It garnered the former surfer Grammy nominations, and he is also about to embark on a UK arena tour.
The talents of Johnson are fully evident on the blissfully wistful "Upside Down", the first single to be lifted from this record. A pleasant melody provides the perfect foundation for his warm vocals, while the chorus complies with the title of the album – perfect for singing along to. Unfortunately this wonderful start is not an indicator of things to come, with perhaps the goal of producing a soundtrack hindering Johnson from reaching the heights of "In Between Dreams". Too many songs, such as "Talk Of The Town" and "Questions", lack the charm that characterised his last record, and fade into background music. The duets with Johnson's friends fair little better, with "Jungle Gym" (featuring G. Love) being the only one that stands out. Leaning toward a country sound, it vividly details the blissful naivety of a child's thoughts in a playground.
A cover of The White Stripes' "We're Going To Be Friends" sees the track being successfully stripped to little more than an acoustic strum, which lyrics that will no doubt have you nostalgic and remembering your first days at school. The same cannot be said of "The 3 R's", and adaptation of "Three Is A Magic Number". It starts pretty well with some funky bass playing, and Johnson's lyrics about recycling are commendable, but the vocals from a group of children are annoying and make it unbearable. The Money Mark Remash version is also completely pointless, injected the track with electronic sound effects that are reminiscent of Ross Geller's keyboard playing in "Friends". There is a brief return to form with the sweet "Supposed To Be", but disappointingly there's nowhere near enough of the quality that has come to be expected from Johnson.