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“Body, Soul, & Spirit” Review: Joeboy Expands on Past Work With New EP

“Body, Soul, & Spirit” Review: Joeboy Expands on Past Work With New EP

joeboy "Body, Soul, & Spirit" cover - Afrocritik

While Body, Soul, & Spirit is not perfect, it sufficiently supplements the preceding Body & Soul album, expanding on its themes, evolving its sounds, and extending the album and Joeboy’s legacy.

By Yinoluwa Olowofoyeku

In an exciting development, six months after the captivating release of Body & Soul, Joeboy, born Joseph Akinwale Akinfenwa-Donus, surprises fans with Body, Soul, & Spirit, an enchanting addendum to his sophomore album. The Nigerian-born singer-songwriter (whose early passion for music blossomed in the choir of his Lagos church) has consistently wowed audiences with his melodic prowess, catching the attention of industry heavyweight, Mr Eazi, in 2017. Under the emPawa imprint, Joeboy soared with hits like the Mr Eazi-assisted “Fààjí” in 2018, followed by the breakout sensation, “Baby” in 2019, which has amassed over 20 million streams.

His distinctive fusion of Afropop and R&B, marked by infectious rhythms and heartfelt lyrics, solidified his presence in the Afrobeats scene. The Love & Light EP showcased his ability to craft relatable songs, paving the way for his debut album, Somewhere Between Beauty & Magic, which garnered praise and established him as a rising star. Body & Soul, as the sophomore project, was intended to cement his status as a bona fide star in the Nigerian Afrobeats scene. The project was received quite well and it seems like this new EP is being released in time to capitalise on that reception.

The 5-track EP begins with “Only God Can Save Me”, a sombre and introspective cut that sees Joeboy lamenting in Yoruba and English languages, over a simple instrumental comprised mostly of a deep bass synth and accompanying pads. The rhythm is set by rattling shakers and an Afrobeats drum pattern with a uniquely syncopated arrangement. Bright guitars and ghostly synths add a light layer during the chorus as Joeboy refrains that only God can save him. The production sprinkles in a number of out-of-place log drums that wouldn’t be missed were they removed. While the instrumentation is simple, it nicely compliments Joeboy’s vocal performance, as it gives him a good amount of sonic space for his sweet melodies.

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“24/7” comes next and ups the tempo with faster shakers and steady Afrobeats snares. These drums sit atop another instrumental built with a strong synthetic bass. Sparkly guitars provide a joyful accent that follows the song’s general positive slant. By the time the log drums and effect-heavy strings arrive, Joeboy is in full stride with his energetic singing and smooth falsetto harmonisations. “Brother man, me I want to dance and flex and feel alright”, Joeboy belts out convincingly across the song that is simultaneously uplifting and reassuring. 

“Telephone” begins with sparkling keys and sharp vocal samples that set the romantic mood the song embodies. Percussion-heavy drums arrive with Joeboy’s steady vocals as he heaps praises on his lover, atop layers of sweet and sensuous instrumentation. His vocals are also layered, allowing him to harmonise in his signature style over sweeping string pads and light expressive pianos.

joeboy "Body, Soul, & Spirit" cover - Afrocritik

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“Enemy” is built on strummed guitars and a rich rhythmically complex Dancehall-inspired drumline. Joeboy spins a simple narrative, detailing an unhealthy relationship and the subsequent fallout, with surprisingly simplistic deliveries. His singing is clear and strong as always, but the melodies here feel less inspired, and the harmonies he layers over those melodies do little to elevate the sonics.

The EP closes with more strummed guitars on “Surviving”. The drums are sparse, ensuring that the focus is on Joeboy’s singing which shines exceptionally on this song. He delivers emotionally poignant melodies all over, with equally sober harmonies that complement the austere mood created by the instrumentals. The song climaxes in these bold brazen moments defined by piercing instruments and emotive ululations. 

Joeboy - Afrocritik

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Body, Soul, & Spirit comes together as advertised—feeling like an extension of the package that was Body & Soul. Joeboy builds on the themes of love and life, approaching them from a slightly varied stylistic direction. Body, Soul, & Spirit features more emotionally affecting production that allows Joeboy to use his vocal prowess in interesting new ways. His singing has always been one of his strengths and that is no different here. Each note is hit and held with control, power, and clarity. The technical singing skill is combined with a mastery of melody and delivery. He imbibes his usual Afropop deliveries with an emotional depth and honesty that works well to communicate relatable emotions. However, this communication is weakened by lacklustre lyrical content that tends to oversimplify the subject matter of the songs. Another let-down on this project is the engineering. Joeboy’s vocals are slightly too prominent on many songs, which sometimes overpowers the instrumentation and derails the sonic balance of the songs.  

While Body, Soul, & Spirit is not perfect, it sufficiently supplements the preceding Body & Soul album, expanding on its themes, evolving its sounds, and extending the album and Joeboy’s legacy. There are a couple of shortcomings across the project that can however be overlooked in favour of a moderately enjoyable listen that is good enough to warrant a recommendation. 

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Lyricism – 1.3

Tracklisting – 1.2

Sound Engineering – 1.4

Vocalisation – 1.6

Listening Experience – 1.2

Rating – 6.7/10

Yinoluwa “Yinoluu” Olowofoyeku is a multi-disciplinary artist and creative who finds expression in various media. His music can be found across all platforms and he welcomes interaction on his social media @Yinoluu.

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