On Feb. 2, Justin Timberlake will drop a new album with a theme that seems all too apt for the location and timing of his performance at the Super Bowl two days later. Man of the Woods “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,” Timberlake says in the voiceover of a video promo announcing the album release.
Where he’s from is Memphis, and it remains to be seen how the legendary blues hub influences the sound of the new LP — but the video plays up the heartland more than the southland, with Timberlake walking through cornfields and snowy mountains. Given the Super Bowl tie-in and the fact that Timberlake’s wife Jessica Biel is a native of Ely, the project has a definite north country resonance.
Of course, these days the contemporary artist most closely identified with the north country, particularly where woods and cabins and sincerity are concerned, is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The video doesn’t suggest that this is going to be a particularly intimate album for Timberlake — Pharrell is seen dubbing one track “a smash” — but it’s hard not to think that the odds of seeing Vernon, or somebody flannel-clad, on the 50-yard line next month just increased dramatically.
— Rachael Krishna (@RachaelKrishna) January 2, 2018