...an attempt to propel himself away from pop music into the urban arena.
Denise Boyd 2002
As a member of the hugely popular US boy band N*SYNC and virginal beau of one Miss Britney Spears, it has been difficult to avoid Justin Timberlake. With the release of his debut album this isn't about to get any easier.
I was cautious about playing this album. Not only was Justin about to attempt to shake off his boy band image, but he would also be trying to catapult himself into the arena of urban music, a huge feat by any standards.
The introduction "Senorita" immediately grabs your attention. In the style of a live performance he leaves you wanting more (which is exactly what introductions should but rarely ever do).
"Like I Love You" is the first single to be released from the album. Produced by the Neptunes (who have worked with anyone worth working with this year), this was of course a sure bet for success. However Justin's vocal arrangement has given this offering a distinctive edge and it stands out as one of the best Neptunes productions this year.
The tracks produced by Timbaland, although flawlessly mixed, have that familiar style that detracts from the originality of the rest of the album. "Cry Me A River" however is the exception to the rule. Here the lyrical content plays as large a role as the production. This song is a haunting tale of a man whose heart has been broken but he refuses to look back, "Your bridges were burned, and now it's your turn to cry, cry me a river." Could Britney have been an inspiration for this emotional outpouring?
An eighties soul feel can be heard throughout Justified, most noticeably in "Rock Your Body", where the influences of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder are very clear. Justin has been likened to Jacko and accused of being a 'wannabe', admittedly the vocal similarities are there but his style is strictly his own. "Still On My Brain" is a beautiful ballad that demonstrates both a musical versatility and vocal ability.
Justified introduces us to a singer/songwriter who is mature beyond his 21 years; he must have been rummaging through his parents record box when he was just knee high. If he continues in this vein, a successful solo career is inevitable. Mr Timberlake, eagerly we await more...
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