To answer your first question: Yes, it is any good. And about your second: Better than you think.
To be sure, it's a strange project: a Michael Jackson record of vocals out of the vault and all-new music from Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, Stargate, Rodney Jerkins and John McClain. L.A. Reid — who oversaw "Xscape" as the chairman and CEO of Epic Records — calls it "contemporizing" Jackson's archival material, which in this case was recorded between 1983 and 1999, or from the time just after "Thriller" to the time just before "Invincible." For the most part, the producers chose to work with a cappella vocals, in an effort not to be overly influenced by the original tracks. The result is an album that puts Jackson's vocal abilities — his smooth ecstasy and pained grit; his swoops, pops, shouts and grunts; those moments when he's overcome by emotion, or breaking free of all restraint and gravity — front and center.
It's the central reason why "Xscape" works as well it does, and to be sure, it works very well. Though these tracks build in complexity, they're never complicated. The focus throughout remains Jackson's voice, and there's none of the overworked and undercooked feeling that sank the previous posthumous Jackson album, 2010's "Michael." If "Xscape" sounds fresh, that's because it is. Once he was the world's biggest pop star, Jackson might spend years working on individual songs, cutting up to 50 tracks for a single album. But Timbaland completed his tracks for "Xscape" at pace of about one a day, once he got past the difficulty of listening to Jackson's vocals in the studio and not being able to talk back to him. Stargate took longer -- about a week -- for one of "Xscape's" standouts, "Place With No Name."