Having just been played on Statik Selektah’s Shade 45 Radio spot, Joey B is riding into 2015 on a high. Discovering the Massachuschetts bar-smith after his collaboration with Tsu Surf and Trev Rich, and then again after videos of him supporting Joe Budden surfaced all over my social media, Joey B is looking like one to watch in the coming years, and this effort is exemplary of why.
“Better Off Apart“, a reflective post-break up single is not perfect, but portrays the potential inside the Mastapeace member. His pathos-packed, apolegetic articulation of the downfall of a destructive relationship features a harrowing, hypnotic honesty that holds through the three and a half minute entirety. It’s not quite on the level of our mutual hero (Budden) or his classic “OLS” series in terms of the emotion they elicit, but that might be off the basis that Barbieri isn’t break up with the love of his life for the millionth time on national television and consequently we’re less invested in the story-arc going into the song.
That said, what he does have over the Mood God, is his cohesive story telling. “Better Off Apart”, never strays off of the train of thought, with each line naturally following the other and each verse synonymous with the other, whilst each being strong enough to stand on it’s own accord.
The true ambivalence of the record comes in the chorus. I’m hoping I’m not breaking the secret to Joey, but his singing talents are limited at best, and that’s ordinarily a cause for concern, but in this case it adds to the personal element of the track. It’s not something I want to hear on the regular, but for a one-off it’s given a pass considering it fits with the style.