For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Second Listen Sunday: Justin Timberlake, Man of The Woods
Two days before headlining The Super Bowl LII Halftime Show, Justin Timberlake gifted fans his new album, Man of The Woods, on February 2nd, 2018, via RCA Records. For his fifth solo album, Timberlake decided to venture away from the R&B influences, which were the dominant force of his previous releases, opting instead for a country sound this go around.
Timberlake, born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, was no stranger to country music, as with his first appearance on Star Search, he sang a country song. Timberlake also explored country music on his last album with the song “Drink You Away.” The question on everyone’s mind was could Timberlake pull off a full-on country album?
Initially, judging from the lead single “Filthy,” I thought Timberlake might have his first flop on his hands due to the underwhelming production of the song. The second & third singles, “Supplies” & “Say Something,” were also a bit on the underwhelming sound for me personally. “Supplies” has grown on me in recent years. I thought for sure Timberlake would release a remix with a rapper guest appearance. While “Say Something,” has edged well, I still feel it might be one of those songs I need to see LIVE fully appreciate the song’s instrumentation.
Thankfully, Timberlake hits more than he misses with this album, and Man of The Woods is stronger than I remember. Timberlake reunited with production duo, The Neptune’s for the first time in over a decade; the album’s best songs come courtesy of the pair.
“Midnight Summer Jam,” “Breeze on The Road,” and “Montana” are some of the best work Timberlake has down in years. “Midnight Summer Jam” is a dance-ready groove, while “Breeze on The Road” and “Montana” have a lovely laid-back groove that reminded me of being on a road trip, where I can clear my head. However, four years later, I still find some of the Neptune tracks to be a bit underwhelming, particularly “Livin on the Land” and “Waves.”
Timberlake also missteps with “The Hard Stuff,” which is a disappointing follow-up to the vastly superior “Drink You Away.” While “Sauce” is another letdown from Timbaland production-wise. I only enjoyed one of the four songs that Timbaland produced on the album. Man of the Woods’ biggest misstep is that there is not anything close to a ballad or slow jam on the album. Only two songs that even fall into the criteria are Alicia Keys duet “Morning Light” and “Flannel.”
Keys & Timberlake voices mesh well on “Morning Light,” and I am surprised the song was not a single. While “Flannel” has a nice acoustic vibe that I can see coming across great in concert with a lucky female fan. Closing out the album is the only Timberland production I liked from the album, “Young Man,” which is a tribute to Timberlake’s son Silas.
Man of the Woods is a vast departure from the Timberlake we had become accustomed to since his solo debut. While it is nowhere as good as his previous work, it is not a misfire either. Listening to the album with an open mind, I enjoyed most of it. I would give it a higher rating if Timberlake cut some of the weaker material and added just one R&B slow cut.
Final Grade C+
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.