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THERE'S SOMETHING REFRESHing about a pop star whose goal is no grander than "bringing sexy back." Timberlake leans heavily on producer Timbaland for stuttering beats and dense, humid melodies that sound the way a packed club feels. Then he levitates into a falsetto that honors Prince and Michael Jackson without stealing from them.
9. THESE DAYS VINCE GILL
TOSSING THE DULL BALLADS THAT made him beloved, Gill dives into bluegrass, jazz and Southern rock on this four-disc set of originals, showing off guitar chops that seem to have come from nowhere. Meanwhile, his singing, stripped of its usual Nashville production dross, delivers numerous heart-piercing moments.
10. MODERN TIMES BOB DYLAN
A GOOD EFFORT FROM DYLAN beats a great one from most other musicians, which is why this least interesting of his still-got-it-era albums belongs with 2006's best. Barely. The lyrics are playfully obtuse ("Walkin' with a toothache in my heel"), and the grooves, when they come, deep and satisfying. If not quite the masterpiece claimed by gushing Dylan-holics, it's still, you know, good enough. •