Haters gon’ say it’s fake.
In a time where everybody is a critic and its trendy to nitpick, Justin Timberlake continues to do his own thing: be an original & tune out the haters.
Bringing a down-home feel to his popular R&B swagger, Timberlake’s fifth studio album, heavily influenced by family-life & the South, is nothing short of feelgood. It may not be as explosive as Justified but is easily comparable to the groove of FutureSex/LoveSounds and is just as experimental as The 20/20 Experience. It’s just more grown up, with a wife & kids.
Man of the Woods is different from anything Justin has done before. Looking to reinvent his sound and pay tribute to where he’s come from, Timberlake decided to dig into his Southern roots. The combination of country twang, blues and folk with sexy, definitive Timbaland & Neptunes beats creates a funky, soulful, 70s vibe that Justin makes all his own.
If you know what’s good.
The futuristic sound of album opener, “Filthy” made a great choice as the first single. Much like “Sexy/Back”, listeners weren’t quite sure what to make of this song at first, myself included. But the more you hear that bass line, the more the beat grows on you. It’s a perfect example of Timberlake’s evolution in music and the fact that he is always willing to try something new.
“Supplies” is the most reminiscent of Justin’s previous music while remaining current and fresh. Its the track that gets stuck in my head the most, mainly because of its catchy hook. Duet with country favorite Chris Stapleton, “Say Something” is easily stuck on repeat because it’s just THAT GOOD and THAT powerful.
“Higher Higher” and “Montanta” are album highlights. Both are sexy, seductive throwbacks to the 70s without sounding cheesy and have obvious influences of Marvin Gaye & Prince. With their dirty guitars, groovy bass, deep synths and moody vocals, these are some of Timberlake’s best songs to date. But if one song defines this album as a whole, gospel soul-jammer “Livin’ Off The Land” represents everything this funky family man is trying to convey.
Timberlake’s wife, Jessica Biel, appears throughout the album in dreamy whispers and laughs, painting a lovely picture of the importance of love. Completing the album with the giggles and sweetness of their son Silas, “Young Man” beautifully represents this time in their life as new parents and is something of a treasure for anyone with a son.
I guess I got my swagger back.
While some songs are easily stronger than others, the overall appeal of this album is universal. I dig the futuristic woodsy vibe and personally love the blend of past traditional music with a more modern sound. It may not be perfect but its fun listening to Justin get his hands dirty or dare I say…filthy?
The good outperforms the bad, making it easy to overlook the more lackluster songs. In simplest terms: Man of the Woods is a sweet love-letter to Timberlake’s wife & son and will surely make you tap your feet and smile at least once.
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