REVIEW: Jack Johnson & Friends - Best Of Kokua Festival

When Jack Johnson assembles an all-star lineup for his Kokua Festival he often includes his friends, many of which appear on this album. He also makes sure to include a lot of other incredibly talented musicians that all share the same vision of music as a unifier and a provider. The Kokua Festival, which Johnson created, exists to support a charitable organization that helps the youth and educational efforts in his home state of Hawaii. In fact, the sale of this album also does just that. The album features a familiar cast of characters that Jack has performed with in the past, such as Ben Harper, G. Love, & Zach Gill. However, the highlights of the album are the performances with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds and a surprise appearance at the festival by Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley. Each and ever inclusion in this mix must have taken a very long time to pick as there are so many great performances that have come from previous Kokua Festivals. Songs on the album are Johnson originals, familiar cover songs, and some of his guests' music, all of which feature Jack lending his talents. Live music is supposed to be fun, even if it's slow and mellow, and Jack Johnson and friends deliver one of the most fun live compilation ever released.

REVIEW: Jason Mraz - Love Is A Four Letter Word

Jason Mraz's career started off strong and then took a left turn only to find it's way back again with the release of his last album. Skyrocketing him to new heights, the single "I'm Yours" turned Mraz into a household. That success allowed him to get a little bit more creative with his latest album, making an entire collection of music that is basically for himself. Musicians use their music as outlets for all sorts of emotions and views and beliefs, and on this album Mraz channels all of his inner love. Songs like "I Won't Give Up," "The World As I See It," and "The Woman I Love" are all smash hits in the signature Mraz style but it's the little moments on the album that shine the brightest. The inclusion of vocalist Inara George give Mraz a little indie cred, but it's the subtle jam rocker "5/6" is the best song on the album. Although he's not a jam band artist, "5/6" showcases Mraz's ability to use the music as a vessel and not just his creative lyrics. All in all, on the heels of his previous album, this one continues to propel him down a perfect path. Jason Mraz has found the ability to harness mellow and bottle it up as pop excellence.