Jack Johnson quietly turned into a star over the course of the 2000s, so it’s only fitting that he inaugurates the second decade of his recording career with To the Sea, an album that feels like the work of a soft rock superstar. Of course, that’s what Johnson is, but he’s avoided sounding that way by performing soft-shuffle acoustic numbers, camouflaging his pop move as a soundtrack to Curious George, then getting mellowly introspective on 2008’s Sleep Through the Static. To the Sea blows away the drowsy cobwebs from Sleep, pushing the acoustic guitar to the background and letting his band groove politely, usually in an amiable, unhurried gait that never breaks a sweat even when the musicians goose the tempo a bit. Call it the signature of a surfer so bleached by the sun that he rushes nothing, but To the Sea substitutes the sunset strum-alongs of his earliest records for a sleek daytime sheen that might glimmer too brightly for hippies but it makes for a better overall pop record, the kind of album that suits Jack Johnson’s stature as surfer turned AAA crooner.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine