Justin Timberlake’s fifth album, “Man of the Woods,” debuted on Friday, Feb. 2. Timberlake claims the album takes listeners back to his childhood where he spent roaming the land between Memphis and Nashville and is heavily influenced by country music.
I, along with many listeners, am confused as to what type of country music he was exposed to as a child. After all, “Man of the Woods” makes Taylor Swift’s album, “Reputation,” seem like a good, old-fashioned country album.
The first song on the album is titled “Say Something,” and I can say with confidence that over 70 percent of the song is comprised of the two words that create the title.
Chris Stapleton, an acclaimed country artist, is featured in the song. The sound of his acoustic guitar is overshadowed by the pounding techno beat. It is unclear if there is an acoustic guitar being played, or if Timberlake and Stapleton are just pretending for the aesthetic of the music video.
The disappointment from “Say Something” carries over into the following song. The song “Filthy” bears no resemblance to anything country. Instead, the song has a heavy electronic beat and clearly uses plenty of autotune.
In addition, the music video contains robots walking a runway 10 years in the future. As if this were not confusing enough, the music video also takes place in Malaysia. I have never been great with geography, but I am fairly certain Malaysia is quite a distance from Tennessee and bears little resemblance to the country music capital of the world.
The title song of the album is the catchiest. However, Timberlake’s constant claim that he is a “man of the woods” makes you wonder if he has ever stepped foot in nature. Not to mention, the song makes absolutely no sense. It seems as though Timberlake is trying to apologize to a girl. Timberlake’s message from this song is unclear from his description, and it certainly is not conveyed to the listener.
Three songs in, and I am already questioning whether I should send Timberlake a memo letting him know he can use more words in a song than those used in the title.
Timberlake’s collaboration with Alicia Keys, “Morning Light,” is the highlight of the album. The pair harmonize well together. However, the song is, once again, repetitive and seems to contain no actual meaning.
After listening to the album, I am certain Timberlake would not be able to live off the land and is a far cry from a man of the woods. The album fails to deliver everything Timberlake promised fans. In fact, what “Man of the Woods” actually conveys is that Timberlake is a man who has become jaded from years of privilege, fortune and being pampered.
Fans were promised an album full of heavy southern influences that can be pieced together to form a larger narrative. After completing the album, however, listeners are left with a feeling of emptiness from the electronic songs that obviously contain no deeper meaning and do not even slightly reveal a different side of Timberlake.
Even the appearances made by Timberlake’s wife, Jessica Biel, and son, Silas, do not add any deeper meaning to the shallow songs.
In fact, Timberlake’s most profound revelation in the entire album is during the first song, “Say Something,” when he repeatedly states, “Sometimes the greatest way to say something, Is to say nothing at all.”
Yes, the most profound revelation made in the entire album was something that most people are taught in the first grade.
Timberlake promised fans he had taken a new direction with this album that would reveal the real him. The album only reveals that Timberlake has never actually heard country music. The album is far from anything that could ever resemble country music.
What is more baffling than Timberlake referring to this as a country album is the fact that Biel and Timberlake stumbled upon the name “Silas” for their son. “Silas” is the Greek term for “woods,” or a place where Biel and Timberlake have obviously never visited, unless the “woods” Timberlake and Biel claim to frequent are actually filled with runway shows in Malaysia, abandoned warehouses and white tigers roaming through major cities.
The title of the album, along with Timberlake’s description, could not possibly be further from the reality of the shallow, electronic and repetitive album Timberlake released Friday.
All I have to say is that Timberlake’s album, “Man of the Woods,” has me begging for his *NSYNC days.