Justin Timberlake threw out a curveball.
The title of his new LP Man Of The Woods suggested that this record would be the rustic album that Timberlake is bound to make one day.
And while there is no doubt that he will get around to making that album one day, Man Of The Woods is not it.
Sure, the deep cut “The Hard Stuff” is semi-earthy but underneath the southern croons and the acoustic guitars lies a bubbling drum loop and few sound effects that showcase that Timberland isn’t ready to commit to dialing it down.
The final track “Young Man” could perform double-duty as a John Mayer single. These songs can’t be ignored as they anchor the collection’s theme more than a good bit of the set.
This is the sound of man coming to terms with his own personal and artistic growth.
And in doing so Man Of The Woods could be considered a bridge album.
At the top of the track list is the powerful dance anthem “Filthy.” The double entendre that runs the track can either serve as a social call to action or a sensual call to action.
In the gut of the record Timberlake slides into adult contemporary with a confusing run of three songs that point to the idea that his creative zeal was in overdrive.
The little bit of this and a little bit of that approach is why Man Of The Woods may not stick as an album. In a singles driven culture where playlists reign supreme, personal favorites will be extracted to suit a mood.
The 20/20 Experience was a Technicolor freak-out but it was still cohesive.
But growth is not a perfect process and Timberlake should be given credit for shaking up the bottle.