Few days before the half-time show at the 52nd Super Bowl, Justin Timberlake releases his latest album Man of the Woods. Despite the title and the visuals used to promote the record, Man of the Woods is not a country album; instead, it’s named after Timberlake’s son (whose name means “of the Woods”).
Besides the album’s name, there are other songs or elements inspired by Timberlake’s beloved family. While Young Man, a happy and light track, is full of cheesy advices for Timberlake’s son; Filthy, Hers and Flannel feature Jessica Biel’s spoken performance. As a result, Man of the Woods is more a celebration of Timberlake’s family, rather than his new music.
In fact, Man of the Woods certainly fails to create new bangers. Filthy, the opener and the first extracted single, is a techno-pop track, which musically doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. It features weak and lazy lyrics and over tuned vocals, that cover Timberlake’s trade-mark falsetto.
Modified vocals and cheesy lyrics are problems that affect other tracks of the album too. Just think to the extremely embarrassing “Ooh, I love your pink, you like my purple” in Sauce.
Musically, Justin Timberlake explored different elements. He used violins, harmonica and hand drums and he featured multiple genres, as R&B, Americana and techno-pop. The aspects that work the best are the two collaborations with Alicia Keys (Morning Light) and Chris Stapleton (Say Something). Rather than the tracks themselves, what can be appreciated is how Timberlake’s voice combines with Keys and Stapleton’s vocals.
This time, being reunited with The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) and Timbaland didn’t serve to create those great sexy hits of the past.