Body & Soul, Joeboy’s sophomore album was a great album that easily trumped the sophomore slump and displayed the full strenghts of Joeboy’s artistry. Honest, relatable, romantic vulnerable music that listeners can easily anchor themselves in. This EP consolidates on that great formular.
There are many reasons why the album didn’t exactly take off and get the sort of mainstream success that it warranted. One could be that it didn’t generate a hit record, which these days is important for the survival of an album in the long run. The other could be that it’s mostly an Afro-R&B album, competing with pop albums in the mainstream space. Whichever reason you choose to believe, it’s definitely not for the lack of quality music on the LP.
It’s not unusual for albums not to take off immediately, and to have their mainstream moments months later when a deluxe gets released and a new single takes off from there. It has happened with the now undeniable classic, Boy Alone. Joeboy could have easily done the same here to prolong the shelf life of Body and Soul, but he opts for a new project entirely which is solely a decision borne out of artistic integrity. This is a follow-up, a deeper delve into its predecessors themes and whilst commercial decisions might have one lump them all together into a deluxe, it’s best this way so you can truly appreciate this EP for the great standalone body of work it is.
Vulnerability is a recurring theme from the album and it’s probably the most dominant on here. EP opener, Only God Can Save Me has Joeboy at his lowest, dining with his demons, drowning in his own drool and pondering on the essence of life. What is more captivating about this song is that it’s not love that has him in this haunted state, but life in general and its woes. Production is still minimalistic, but there is the persistence of wailing synths in the background that goes along with Joeboy’s wails, as he belts out “only God can save me” repeatedly.
24/7 is more upbeat and the tempo gets kicked up a notch. The drums are celebratory and soft guitar chords are triumphant in contrast to the much darker opener. The sentiment aligns well with the groove of the record, as Joeboy attempts to pick himself up and put up a fight against his struggles and strifes—insisting that he’s going to party and feel all right, despite all odds. On the second verse, his flow cadence gets really tight and his delivery is quite dynamic and it matches the relentless energy of the beat.
We head back to romantic, heartfelt R&B territory on Telephone, where Joeboy waxes poetic about the potency of his lover’s actions over his peace and state of mind. This is one song that could have easily slotted right into the original album, as it aligns perfectly with the confessional nature of the love, swoony anthems that the LP was stacked with. There is something strained about Joeboy’s vocals on this song though, that hints at his overall exhaustion and state of mind. And in that sense, the sequencing makes much more sense.
If Joeboy was baring his heart out and re-affirming his lover on her significance in his life, Enemy is the ensuing plea that she shouldn’t take him for granted as he’s worn out and tired of mind games. He is helpless and knows it. It’s the type of grueling hopelessness that engulfs one with the realization that the other person has so much power in their hands and could make or break them with one decision.
“So far I’m doing amazing things, surviving without you” Joeboy sings on EP closer, Surviving and from the look of things, it would seem that his lover didn’t heed his pleas on the preceding track and still went ahead to break his heart. Although he sounds like he’s moved on in one part, it’s only a ploy so as to look put together and not let on the true derelict, pathetic state he is in because on the same track, he’s pondering “why you leave me lonely?” There is only so long he can keep the facade on and it crumbles minutes into the song.
Body, Soul & Spirit is a great extension of Joeboy’s sophomore album and it sheds off the layers and offers an even deeper introspection into the album’s themes, going beyond the surface level of romance into the depths of mental health, grief and self loathing. The one problem from the album still persists though and that’s the minimalistic production that fails to elevate the record. At this point, it’s a mystery why Joeboy still persists with the same producers and doesn’t opt for something fresh and uplifting.
This writer wishes him all the best though and hopes this project and even the preceding album gets all the flowers they deserve.
Sonic Cohesion: 1.6/2
Unharried Transitions: 1.3/2
Expansive Production: 1/2
Songwriting & Delivery: 1.5/2
Optimal Track Sequencing/Topical Progression: 1.8/2
–written by T.J. Martins, an avid lover of music.