The Morse Code

Filed under Entertainment

Timberlake attempts to break away from pop past to embrace roots

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

On Feb. 2, Justin Timberlake released his fifth studio album, Man of The Woods, after a five year hiatus since The 20/20 Experience in 2013. This album explores a more personal side of Timberlake, who collaborates with producers Timbaland and The Neptunes in an attempt to combine music from his southern roots with his pop sound. 

In a preview video for his album, Timberlake described it as “Modern Americana with 808s”, and Man of The Woods shows this along with a variety of different musical elements such as funk, rock, folk, trap, and country. This can be heard in his lead single “Filthy,” which features a rock ballad intro that turns into a funky, wicked bass-filled song with a strong groove that keeps you hooked.  Songs, such as “Supplies,” contain elements of trap along with a sitar-filled beat and a bridge that separates itself from the song with a country flow. Both of these serve as a compliment to “Morning Light”, a slow, soul-filled song that features beautiful vocals from Alicia Keys and “Say Something”, which showcases Timberlake and country singer, Chris Stapleton, belting out soulful vocals and strumming  guitars to a solid Timbaland beat.

The album also demonstrates elements of Timberlake’s musical past as well. Songs such as “Midnight Summer Jam” and “Higher Higher” show Timberlake at his best, with dance-filled, groovy instrumentals and bridges that are sonically phenomenal. Yet, they also add the elements of southern and country with a harmonica solo, country melodies, fiddles, and guitars. “Sauce” is a country, bluegrass roots version of “Futuresex/Lovesound”. Co-written by singer Toby Keith, the song features compressed guitars and drums with a refrain that showcases a country melody to go along with the pop and R&B flow that Timberlake sings. 

When creating the album, Timberlake said that it “is best when listened outdoors”, and this album puts the listener there. Songs, such as “Wave,” make use of steel drums, banjos, electric guitars, and ukuleles to create a tropical mood, making it feel as if you are by the ocean. “Montana” is a great song that showcases Timberlake’s vocals with a great Neptunes instrumental that makes it seem like you are driving down the highway in the middle of a desert. “Breeze Off the Pond” and “Livin’ Off the Land” combine guitar instrumentals with Timberlake’s solid harmonies and choruses to make you feel as if you are wandering through the woods.

Man of The Woods, additionally, touches on Timberlake’s personal life. “Young Man” is a fun and heartfelt song that features Timberlake singing an ode to his son Silas, who also has vocals in the beginning and end of the track. The title track, “Man of the Woods”, displays Timberlake singing about his love for wife Jessica Biel. Timberlake includes Biel in an interlude called “Hers,” in which she talks about how wearing his shirts make her feel like she is a part of him.

While the album features many highlights, its downfall is within the lyrics. Many of the songs in the album contain lyrics that might not be appropriate for some listeners, and at times are cheesy. Lyrics such as “Put your filthy hands all over me” and “What you gonna do with all that meat?”, in “Filthy,” and “I love your pink, you like my purple”, in “Sauce,” give off sexual overtones that create an uncomfortable feeling. “Flannel” is a great lullaby-like song, but lyrics such as “Right behind my left pocket, that is where you feel my soul” come off as cheesy and make it awkward to listen to.

Overall, Timberlake did a great job with an ambitious task of deciding to reach out to his southern roots and mix that with his pop sound, rather than pumping out an album that would feature music typical to his previous records. The album is fantastic, aside from the lyrics, is worth the listen.


Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

Navigate Right
Navigate Left