by Kia Harlan
Justin Timberlake returns to his roots in his album Man of the Woods, exploring a country feel with a modern twist.
Five years since his last album release, The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake’s life has changed as he embraces his fatherhood, which has affected his musical direction. In a promotional video for his new album, released Feb. 2, Timberlake said: “This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any album I’ve ever written, where I’m from- it’s personal.” In the title song, “Man of the Woods,” Timberlake speaks of his pride for his son and how he cannot help talking about him with everyone.
Via social media he also revealed that the album is named after his two-year-old son, Silas, whose name means “of the woods.” This tribute to his son is evident in “Young Man,” which includes a sound bite of his son saying “Da Da” for the first time, and includes Timberlake giving him advice on how to live. In the title song, “Man of the Woods,” Timberlake tells of his pride in his son and how he cannot help talking about him with everyone.
Continuing with the theme, Timberlake explore his Tennessee roots, adding a southern, outdoorsy flavor in “Supplies,” “Breeze Off the Pond” and “Livin’ Off the Land.” In “Breeze Off the Pond,” like “Young Man,” he shares truths and gives direction seemingly intended for his son when he is older. Lyrics like “Huff and puff all they want, but this house isn’t made of straw. What we got is solid as oak so you know it’ll never blow away,” play off the children’s book The Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf and are a firm reminder to his son of a strong a foundation of love that surrounds him.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Timberlake said, ”It sounds more like where I’ve come from than any other music I’ve ever made… It’s Southern American music. But I want to make it sound modern.”
This Southern American music is felt in “Flannel” with its simple and repetitive guitar chord progression, giving it an anecdotal and lullaby quality. While in the past he used electronic rhythms, this album has a more acoustic sound with more emphasis on guitar strumming. He still adds modern flair though, as seen in “Montana,” where Timberlake’s soothing vocals sing over a heavy bass and drum line.
Another notable song is “Morning Light” featuring Alicia Keys, which showcases a tranquility and steadiness that may be analogous to Timberlake’s own life. He has built a stable family and confidently establishes himself in his musical style to the point where he can explore other genres, while remaining true to himself.
Although fans may be surprised by Timberlake’s choice to go more country, his reliable catchy lines and signature falsetto are sure to win over skeptics. This relaxing selection of songs, rich with fatherly love, advice and playfulness, allows listeners to get a more personal glimpse into Timberlake’s life and beliefs.
Timberlake will be going on his Man of the Woods Tour in March. The album is available for purchase online, at various retail stores and at Apple Music. It is also available for streaming on Spotify.