Livi Jacobs is an Austrian singer-songwriter based in Florida, which was a move I can only assume she made on account of the weather. That is not the point here, though. Jacobs’ recent single, “Better That Way” comes across my desk on the heels of her earlier releases “Goodbye” and “Should’ve Known,” which have garnered her a respectable few thousand plays and Spotify monthly listeners. This isn’t surprising – “Better That Way” in particular is a very cool, well-executed piece of dark, modern pop.
The song opens with a strong, impactful beat built on a pitched-down vocal sample that sets the dim, contemplative tone from the outset. The chorus, centered on the eponymous lyric “maybe it was better that way” makes it plain that this is a post-breakup meditation, filling out the emotional atmosphere of the piece. Jacobs’ vocal performance is characterized by a distinctive restraint in her vocal expression. At times it seems unemotional, but not boring – I get the sense that this was an intentional choice; that Jacobs is trying to convey a distanced, almost dismissive attitude towards the failed romance her lyrics discuss. It also gives the song a laid-back vibe, perhaps at odds with the subject matter but well suited to listening on a sad, lonely evening.
Melody is where “Better That Way” shines. The vocal line flows smoothly, complementing the clean, focused rhythms and tight pop structure of the song. I would posit that a more emotional, dynamic performance might add a little interest, but again, this really does feel like an intentional choice. Instrumentally, “Better That Way” is dominated by a modern, trap-influenced beat and the aforementioned low-pitched vocal loop. The arrangement is minimal, leaving plenty of space for Jacobs’ vocal to take center stage – but at the same time, a fuller production may have helped elevate the emotional impact of the song. Nonetheless, the production is very solid, and very polished, and wouldn’t be out of place on a playlist of similar-styled music.
Where I think this song could really shine would be with a powerful EDM remix. The vocals and instrumental both would be easy pickings for a competent producer to craft a dancefloor smash, and if I were on Jacobs’ team I’d definitely be pushing for an effort like that to be made to expose the song to a wider audience. It has the mood, the tempo, and the overall character for it for sure.
In short, “Better That Way” is a dark, laid-back listening experience, a mood piece for a sad evening, and it definitely showcases Jacobs’ potential as a major pop artist. Despite my criticisms, the song has a certain charm to it, and I would be fascinated to see if she continues down this stylistic path or switches direction on her future releases.
Listen to "Better That Way" on Spotify here -
You can check out Livi Jacob’s website here:
A brilliant addition to the repertoire -