Monday, February 5, 2018

Music Review: Man of the Woods by Justin Timberlake



There’s an elephant in the room that needs to be taken care of! Next time I wait four or five months to write a review you guys should blow up my email, storyandgritreviews@gmail.com, so this doesn’t happen again. Now that’s out of the way let’s talk about Justin Timberlake. A few of my friends were shocked to find out I have an affinity for pop music that isn’t a guilty pleasure but it’s true. I’m a fan of all of it. It’s particularly enjoyable when it’s done right. That’s how Justin Timberlake starts his new album, Man of the Woods. The first track, Filthy, has an epic intro before falling prey to a funky groove. Midnight Summer Jam keeps the groove continuity going with a disco feel. It has the greatest declaration of my homeland I’ve ever heard, “Act like the south ain’t the shit!” I mean seriously, you can’t! 

We change gears quickly with Sauce. I’m still trying to figure out if I like this song or not. It has a very Country feel and a chicken picking guitar intro that is cool and kind of unusual but it also has a very funk beat underneath. It’s such an odd combo that I haven’t decided whether or not he made it work. I welcome anyone’s input on the discussion of this song. Man of the Woods, Higher Higher, and Waves take the tempo down a notch. It’s a welcome balance to the sensations of the album. Morning Light and Say Something welcome special guests Alicia Keys and Chris Stapleton. Both tracks are soulful and fit nicely beside each other in the flow of the album. Hers introduces a key influence Timberland said made a major impact on the album, his wife, and son. It’s a short interlude of Jessica Biel’s voice that leads up to Flannel. Here we’re treated to what sounds deceptively folky in the beginning but after a quick pause becomes a tasteful R&B tune. I found this song very creative!

Don’t be fooled by the title of the next song, Montana, it’s not country or folk. It’s another straight-up R&B tune with a nice laid-back groove. I read ahead of the release Mr. Timberlake also said the outdoors were also a big influence on the direction of this album, hence the next title, Breeze Off the Pond. This song also has a nice beat and a captivating chorus. Livin’ Off the Land’s title also suggests the outdoors influence. This song is actually an inspirational tune for blue collared folks, an enjoyable moment for me totally. The Hard Stuff’s opening line suggests a drinking song except it’s an innuendo for a pickup song. Timberlake really knows the art of deception and he uses it well throughout the album, lyrically and musically. The final track, Young Man, starts with Justin getting his son to say, “dada.” The ensuing song is a letter to his son about the road ahead and how he’ll always be there for him. 

Justin Timberlake did a great job at depicting the south in his own way. It’s a simple place with simple values. Family is important, work is what makes you a man, and life is lived best on the front porch or together as a family in the yard. This is probably Justin Timberlake’s most personal moment to date. It’s always nice when an album is more like a journal because you connect with someone you may never meet in a way only music can provide. I think there’s something for everyone no matter where you’re at in life on this album. Give it a listen and let us know what you think! 

Bio Matthew Westmoreland (or Matty, as his friends call him) was born in South Carolina, grew up in Georgia, and rambled everywhere in between. Currently located in Mendocino, California with his wife and two sons, he spends his days writing songs and his evenings listening to & reviewing albums for Story & Grit before gigs. Look for his debut album in late 2017 and keep up with him in the meantime at facebook.com/westmorelandsounds
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