Two years on from his breakthrough album 'In Between Dreams', Jack Johnson, that purveyor of positive vibes and sun-soaked melodies, returns with 'Sleep Through the Static'. In what is his fourth offering, the Hawaiian singer-songwriter sticks to the same formula which characterised his previous three efforts.
For fans of his, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. On his day, Johnson can write four-minute folk/pop songs as perfect as any songwriter you're likely to find. Warm acoustic guitar, funky bass-lines and the odd bit of reggae, combined with an uncanny ear for melody, are all staple ingredients of his songs and more often than not he hits the right notes.
'If I Had Eyes' is the first single to come from the album and ticks all the above boxes, a laidback, infectious number about losing that girl and not knowing if you'll win her back.
His pared down, one-man-and-a-guitar songs are some of the best on the album. 'Angel' and in particular 'Same Girl', with its irresistible hook of a chorus, is one of the best he's ever written.
However, although Johnson's tried and tested formula isn't a bad thing, it can be too much of a good thing. Too many times there's a sense that we've been here before. The album's title-track, for example, both in melody and lyrics, is almost a clone of 'Inaudible Melodies', the first song from his debut 'Brushfire Fairytales'.
The second half of 'Sleep Through the Static' has a darker lean to it, but with no real instrumental or tempo change the differences tend to go unnoticed.
But in the end these shortcomings are just minor grumbles.
Johnson probably knows he'll never make an 'In Rainbows' or 'Blonde on Blonde'. You get the feeling he doesn't seem to mind. Anyone who buys this record looking to escape a rainy Irish afternoon and go somewhere sunnier won't mind either.