Justin Timberlake is known for his eclectic music style stemming from his days with NSYNC, and then pushing the boundaries of pop with FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006), and the illustrious 20/20 Experience (2013).
Man of The Woods, released on Feb. 2, encapsulates a wide range of elements, from his signature pop style to the heavy roots of southern soul and country.
The album opens with the electronic track “Filthy” in which Timberlake repeatedly exclaims, “If you know what’s good” while the backdrop of an anticipated buildup leads the song to a masterful fusion of sounds.
On tracks such as “Midnight Summer Jam” and “Sauce,” Timberlake profusely combines elements of old-soul funky guitar riffs with homages to his Tennessee roots. “Y’all can’t do better than this/Act like the South ain’t the shit,” he sings over a fast electronic beat on “Midnight Summer Jam.” Though he gravitates towards his southern roots (there is a harmonica over the drum beat), “Midnight Summer Jam” feels reminiscent of the sounds on his 20/20 Experience album.
After the barrage of electronic sounds, the album then transitions into a nature-inspired vibe, which is essentially the foundation of the album itself. The sounds of acoustic guitars, campfire-style drums, and Timberlake’s smooth vocals make tracks such as “Man of the Woods” and “Higher Higher” memorable and heartwarming. “Man of the Woods” in particular is a fun and heartwarming track dedicated to Timberlake’s wife and son, Silas: “I brag about you, to anyone outside/ But I’m a man of the woods/ It’s my pride.”
There are also several collaborators on the album, including longtime producer Timbaland and The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) who helped craft the tracks such as the funked-up exotic tune “Waves” and the pre-apocalyptic track “Supplies,” in which Timberlake ‘prepares’ us for apocalypse-mode, singing, “The world can end now/Baby, we’ll be livin’ in The Walkin’ Dead.”
There are also tracks such as “Morning Light,” which feature R&B star Alicia Keys, as well as country star Chris Stapleton on the soulful track titled “Say Something,” another example of Timberlake connecting with his Southern roots.
Following a blissful interlude (narrated by Justin’s wife), the campfire-esque track “Flannel” leads the album back into a nature-inspired mode.
Timberlake then retreats to his signature pop style while continuing country themes on the tracks such as “Montana,” “Breeze Off The Pond,” and “Livin’ Off The Land.”
The album comes full circle with “Young Man.” In this track, the ultimate dedication song to his son, Timberlake sings about encountering life lessons within the fast-paced world of relationships and identity: “You don’t understand/right now you’re a young man/ but you gon’ have to stand for something.”
Though Justin Timberlake may be moving away from the iconic style of pop that we’re used to, he proves that being inspired by life, nature, as well as his Southern roots is the perfect recipe to appreciating our surroundings.
Man of The Woods is available on Spotify and iTunes.