By David Browne
February 28, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Jack Johnson: Gerrad Needham/ Headpress/ Retna

In Between Dreams


Jack Johnson projects a rugged masculinity, yet his sunscreened folk, reggae, and blues doesn’t kick sand in anyone’s face. In Between Dreams follows the mellow drift of its predecessors. The melodies are sweetly casual, the lyrics alternating between beach-comber seductions (”Banana Pancakes”) and mild-mannered commentary on malevolent TV pundits (”Good People”).

Johnson never lets his emotions boil over; he’s so laid-back it’s hard to tell when he’s worked up. In more encouraging news, his tunes are meatier. He’s channeling Steve Miller with the cream-puff harmonies and hooks of Miller-lite tunes like ”Crying Shame” and the folk-rapping ”Staple It Together.” You just want Johnson to vent a little. In ”Sitting, Waiting, Wishing,” he’s not happy about acquiescing to his lover’s lifestyle and accepting her friends. But ”putting up with them wasn’t worth never having you” is the politest gibe you’ll ever hear.

In Between Dreams

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