Five years after releasing his last album, The 20/20 Experience Justin Timberlake releases his fifth studio album, Man of the Woods (via RCA Records) on February 2nd, 2018. Fans got some teasers beforehand with songs like “Filthy”, “Supplies” and “Say Something” that were released alongside some very invigorating music videos. Timberlake is known for weaving together diverse genres and this album certainly does that. He’s not a stranger to releasing chart-topping and award winning singles. Timberlake’s charisma shines through with his vocals in Man of the Woods.
One of the songs that stands out was “Sauce” that begins with sampled audio taken from a video that went viral on YouTube last year (“The Sauce is forever” Best Buy Employee Guy). The song doesn’t fail to say “let’s groove” with Justin’s smooth vocals and 80’s inspired groove soul instrumentals. In tracks like “Man of the Woods”, Justin’s voice is so soothing he practically whispers the entire song over some very blues-inspired instrumentals. The rhythm in “Higher higher” slightly reminds listeners of “Independent Women” back in the Destiny’s Child days. Songs like “Wave” takes listeners back in time with a basically sped up version of Johnny Cash style guitar strums. Listeners also hear some songs heavily inspired by 80’s disco; “Breeze Off the Pond” is certainly one of them which features smooth glide instrumentals and catchy repetitive choruses. Additionally, “Midnight Summer Jam” seamlessly blends Justin’s Michael Jackson inspired vocals with a fun dance floor disco pop beat, ending with a harmonica solo. Alicia Keys shines in a dreamy duet with Justin Timberlake alongside a slight bit of reggae infusion. Songs like “Flannel”, “Man of the Woods”, and “Livin’ Off the Land” gave fans an impression that Justin would discover his inner survivorman roots in the woods. However, “Supplies” proves otherwise and takes a completely different twist with R&B elements, Justin’s signature vocals, and trap ad-libs in the background. The song fuses well with the singable melodies, futuristic bass womps, and heavy female breathing throughout “Filthy”. Despite the two dancey singles pairing well together, they just fail to congeal with the rest of the album, which may potentially be the reason why fans are so disappointed. It’s evident in tracks such as “Young Man” and “Hers” that they are indeed “family dedicated”. “Young Man” is basically a sweet song giving advice to Justin’s son, Silas. The singers pleasant vocals paired with the very emotional message behind the song makes a perfect fit for the family theme, however just does blend with the rest of the songs. “Hers” is basically an interlude dedicated to Jessica Biel where she talks about how sexy she feels in her husband’s T-shirt. Again, fans can sense the family dedication behind it, however it doesn’t exactly make sense on the album. Listeners can certainly hear exactly how Justin was attempting to weave various genres in “Say Something”, Timberlake’s collaboration with Chris Stapleton. The track perfectly blends acoustic guitars, soft choirs, electronic samples, and both singers’ strong vocals.
Fan’s predictions about the album being a country album judging by the song names, album title, and album cover weren’t exactly accurate. “Man of the Woods” in fact was inspired by Justin’s son, Silas which translates to “of the forest”. Fans are still sort of confused how “Supplies” and “Filthy” make their fit onto the rest of the album. Being that the singles were released first, fans felt “let down” after the rest of the album was released and completely took a left turn with a blend of various genres such as pop, dance, country, and R&B but more so 70’s disco and funk. Timberlake certainly knows the meaning of a successful song and/or album, however “Man of the Woods” might be hard for some fans to follow,
especially the younger ones. Perhaps older fans would enjoy and appreciate the album more. Justin took a risk and experimented with something completely new with his new album.
Music Mayhem’s Rating: 4 out of 5
Songs to Listen to: Supplies, Filthy, Midnight Summer Jam, Morning Light and Say Something
Listen to the new album on Spotify: