Justin Timberlake: Man of the Woods review – failed fusion of rural rhythms


We live in complicated times. Forbes, a website that counts the assets of the world’s richest 1%, has accused Justin Timberlake of “fake wokeness” on the occasion of his fourth solo album. Billed as something of a return to the singer’s Tennessee roots, Man of the Woods lands just as Timberlake’s working relationship with Woody Allen is under scrutiny, and his imminent appearance at the Super Bowl recalls his less-than-gallant role in Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction in 2004.

Tunes-wise, Timberlake’s return to his roots is partial, as standout songs like Sauce and Filthy gyrate persuasively around Princely funk and bombastic, lubricious R&B. Midnight Summer Jam is the sort of busy party production that Timberlake has specialised in for years, abetted by the Neptunes (who produce again here).

From here on in an uneasy fusion ensues, however, in which Timberlake “gets his flannel on” (Flannel) and mostly fails to combine the rural with an edgy digital aesthetic – a particularly gnomic duet with country star Chris Stapleton (Say Something) is produced by Timbaland. Sometimes, though, new ground is broken. Wave is , blithe, downright ear-pricking ska just on the “yes” side of “what?”.

Watch the video for Supplies by Justin Timberlake.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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