So I really like Justin Timberlake’s new record, The 20/20 Experience. And as I listened during a daily trudge on the treadmill, I thought about the “JT” of my generation, James Taylor, above, and the marvelous way music has of providing its own circle game through the years. The first JT remains a dependable comfort zone for me, and has been since I first heard his iconic album, Sweet Baby James. For a preteen with melancholic tendencies, “Fire and Rain” was something of an anthem, along with a favorite chill song, “Carolina in My Mind” (where I still go when things get prickly). The sounds of this generation’s JT, as rendered on 20/20, are a smooth confection of ear candy — even one of the songs is called “Strawberry Bubblegum”— but also kind of perfect for the era, much in the way the introspective Baby James was in its time. (Timberlake, below, harkens back even further to a bygone period, with the Big-Bandish mood and feel of the chart-topping single “Suit & Tie.”)
A new pop comfort zone is created, with two “JTs” now at the head of the class.