After over two years of rumor and anticipation, Justin Timberlake has finally dropped the first solid information about his upcoming new album, along with substantial hints at the sonic direction it might take. This is all amid an environment where many hints and rumors have been swirling since late 2015 which have some or most of Justin Timberlake’s new music being heavily inspired by country and roots, along Timberlake’s upbringing in Memphis.
One thing we know for sure now, Memphis will factor in heavily to the new music. In a minute-long teaser released on Monday (1-2), Timberlake says, “This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family. But more so than any other album I’ve ever written, where I’m from. And it’s personal.”
The new album is called Man of the Woods, and will be released on February 2nd. A new song will also emerge on January 5th, likely called “Fresh Leaves.” Justin Timberlake’s son is named Silas, which translates from Latin to “of the forest”—similar to the name of the new album.
“It feels like mountain, trees, campfires, like Wild West, but now,” a female voice says, possibly of Timberlake’s wife, actress Jessical Biel, who also makes a brief appearance in the video. Of course Memphis doesn’t really have any mountains, and certainly isn’t the “Wild West.”
“It feels so earthy,” producer Pharrell can also be heard saying. “It’s just where you are in your life right now.”
Amid images of Justin Timberlake kneeling in snowy fields, wading in a river very indicative of a Southern baptismal, walking through a corn field, a shot of stallions running across the range, and a large bonfire, snippets of music play that certainly have very earthy, rootsy tones. This includes low hums, the jangle of a guitar with fiddles in the background, but then morphing into electronic drum beats and urban annunciations more indicative of Timberlake’s contemporary efforts.
So though Timberlake stokes the imagination that Man of the Woods could have some country and roots textures on it, the ultimate judgement remains inconclusive, and likely will stay that way until February 2nd. It’s pretty safe to assume his first single won’t be a hard country shit kicker, but don’t be surprised if the “earthy” influences are intermixed with more radio-friendly tones. Chris Stapleton, who is a good friend of Timberlake’s and performed with him during a now landmark 2015 appearance at the CMA Awards, is also rumored to make an appearance on the album. This information is said to be confirmed in a Rolling Stone feature on the new album emerging in the coming days.
One thing is for sure, Justin Timberlake has everyone paying attention, which is the point any artist wants to get the public to before releasing a highly-anticipated album such as Man of the Woods.