Album Review

Timberlake is bringin’ country, flannel back

Amidst his ever-encompassing performance at the Super Bowl LII halftime show, Justin Timberlake released his fifth studio album, Man of the Woods—listed first in the Billboard Top 200 this week. Named after his son, Silas, meaning “of the forest” in Latin, the album was inspired by Timberlake’s home roots in Memphis, Tennessee and dedicated to his family.

Three singles were released in the month of January to prepare fans for the album. “Filthy,” a song featuring an EDM style, was first released January 5. Next came “Supplies,” a hip-hop inspired song about being dependable and resourceful, filled with vocals in between verses. Lastly, on January 25, Timberlake released “Say Something” featuring Chris Stapleton along with a music video. Largely different from the previous two singles, “Say Something” incorporates guitar melodies, and a folk sound. Overall, Man of the Woods offers a variety of tracks reminiscent of Timberlake’s pop days and possibly reveals a new side of the artist.

Four music videos accompany the album, one for each single and one for “Man of the Woods.” Most notable is the six minute video for “Say Something,” which was filmed live in one continuous take. Set in the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, the video features Timberlake as he builds the melody first using a drum controller, then vocals, and then an acoustic guitar. He walks through the building, passing birdcage elevators and wrought iron staircases occupied by fellow musicians, until Chris Stapleton makes an appearance. The video ends with an accompanying 60-person chorus, filling the room with a warm tone. On another note, the video for “Man of the Woods” contrasts the poetry of “Say Something” with silly dancing and and a scene with multiple Timberlakes portraying different roles. With a light-hearted theme, this music video shows Timberlake’s versatile style.

Stapleton was an accidental artist featured in the album, as he was originally included in the project to assist with songwriting. Having contributed to “Morning Light,” “The Hard Stuff,” and “Say Something,” Stapleton was asked to sing as a part of the collaboration. In an interview with Billboard, Stapleton says, “I really just went out to Los Angeles to write songs with him … It came out great. I had a blast with him, he’s a great creative force and one of those guys that if you get a chance to work with him, you should.”

Information for an album tour starting in March has been released. Timberlake suggests performances for the tour will strictly take place in arenas. “I wanted to do the show in arenas because I wanted to bring the outside in,” says Timberlake to Jimmy Fallon in a Tonight Show interview.

In a brief video trailer, Timberlake says, “It’s personal,” indicating the importance of this five-year long project. Ultimately, his matured persona shines through in this album, introducing a new country perspective—and a daring new look with flannels and beanies. Who knows where Timberlake will go next?