By Janelle Finch, E23 Reporter

Justin Timberlake's "Man of the Woods" logo

“Man of the Woods” logo (Source: Wikimedia)

Justin Timberlake ditched his “Suit & Tie” in favor of flannels and blue jeans with his newest album, “Man of the Woods.”

Just days before his much-anticipated Super Bowl halftime performance, Justin Timberlake dropped his latest album, “Man of the Woods,” Friday at midnight. Timberlake took a different approach with his new album, incorporating more tracks inspired by his hometown of Memphis and showcasing a mature development of lyrics and sound.

The title track, “Man of the Woods,” is one of the less sophisticated songs on the album. It sounds like something you would play while woodland creatures helped you with your chores. The lyrics are basic and lack a sincere depth. Timberlake has dipped his toes in the country waters before with songs like “Drink You Away,” so it’s a surprise that “Man of the Woods” is such a flop. Regardless, with a catchy and repetitive chorus, it’s bound to be stuck in your head the rest of the day.

Justin Timberlake plays guitar on stage

Source: Wikimedia

Prior to the album’s full release, Timberlake dropped the single “Filthy.” The song was lackluster fanfare to welcome JT back from a five-year hiatus. “Filthy,” which Timberlake claims is a song that “should be played very loud,” should not be played very loudly. Timberlake tries way too hard with an electronic warping of beats to sound edgy and cool. The song, with graphic lyrics and tired song progression, doesn’t fit with the rest of the album. It’s simply boring. A true shame, as this is far from Timberlake’s best work.

“Say Something” is a collaboration between Timberlake and country singer-songwriter, Chris Stapleton. This song is Timberlake’s most successful country track on the album. With powerful vocals from both Timberlake and Stapleton, this song felt genuine and real. The bridge, where Timberlake and Stapleton come together repeating “Sometimes the greatest way to say something is to say nothing at all,” is especially compelling, emphasizing that actions speak louder than words. The song ends with the duo repeating the same line from the bridge but cuts off just before “at all,” finishing the number off in both a clever and unexpected way.

“Higher Higher” takes on similar notes from Timberlake’s past albums. Bringing back his notable JT swagger, this track is vocally rich and a favorite of the album. If you’re able to sit still through this entire song, I commend you. The song progression is clean and exciting. This song, along with “Midnight Summer Jam,” reflects old-school Timberlake. Veteran fans of his will detect commonalities between “Midnight Summer Jam,” “Don’t Hold the Wall” and “Let the Groove Get In.” Timberlake sticks to what he knows with these tracks and there’s a reason he does it so well.

The “Hers (Interlude),” narrated by Timberlake’s wife, Jessica Biel, transitions the latter half of the album into a much more relaxed, R&B-country mix. One song featured toward the end of the album is “Montana.” The song sounds similar to Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance,” which makes sense as Pharrell contributed to both tracks. Other songs that follow the interlude, like “Breeze Off the Pond” and “Livin’ Off the Land,” also carry an enjoyable ease to them. These tracks included soul and country without being too in your face.

Finally, Timberlake concludes the album with “Young Man,” a dedication to his son, Silas. This is one of Timberlake’s most personal tracks, not just for the album, but for his entire career. The song features audio from his wife and son. An intimate conversation between Timberlake and Silas, his famous father explains to him that he has a lot to learn about the world he’s coming into. “You don’t understand, right now you’re a young man, but you gon’ have to stand for something.” It’s truly an inspiring song that any father-son duo can relate to.

Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” tour begins March 2018.

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