Jack Johnson

Acoustic alchemy

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By Gary Graff  

On his third studio album, In Between Dreams, the surfing singer-songwriter doesn't stray too far from the gentle, acoustic guitar-dominated sounds of his previous outings -- not surprising given the multi-platinum success he's enjoyed in that vein.

But Johnson still catches a few fresh waves this time out, including the heavier funk of "Staple it Together," the Eastern-flavored guitar signature that opens "Better Together," and the lush meldocism of "Constellations." Johnson once again abets his love songs with politics ("Good People," "Crying Shame"), while "If I Could" explores the melancholy juxtaposition of birth and death. There may not be another "Bubble Toes" or "Flake" here, but In Between Dreams keeps Johnson's virtues intact while working to expand on them just a bit more.

Gary Graff writes extensively about music. His work has appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Detroit Free Press, and Billboard.