Better Days comes less than a year after Joe's popular breakthrough with "Stutter," the collaboration he did with Mystikal that turned more than a few rap listeners onto his style of urban soul.
It's a sparse and succinct album, no doubt rushed to capitalize on the success of "Stutter" and the holiday season as well.
To begin with, only two songs feature guests, and one of those songs, "Let's Stay Home Tonight," is a rather straightforward remix for the rap audience featuring Petey Pablo.
The other collaboration, "Ghetto Child," is a bit more ambitious, featuring Shaggy and the Boys Choir of Harlem.
Elsewhere, the emphasis is on Joe.
There isn't a roll call of big-name producers here (though the Neptunes do make a showing), so Joe is left to carry much of the album's weight.
He proves more than capable of the challenge on songs like the lead single, "Let's Stay Home Tonight," but too often these songs recycle the same songwriting techniques and find Joe revisiting the same motifs over and over.
In sum, this plays like a pop album -- a few obvious standout singles and lots of repetitive filler.
However, if you're looking for a few quality singles rather than a consistent album, you should find this to be an engaging album, even if its rushed and ultimately thin on original ideas.