Apart is the best song Brandy has ever recorded, due in large part to the fact that it contains the best vocal performance she has yet recorded. This is a song about coming to terms with the end of a relationship.
It works for three reasons: the melody, Brandy’s singing, and the slightly cacophonous production that gives the song a crowded, unfocused feel that underscores the emotion perfectly.
But the key here is that Brandy’s vocal performance is uncommonly astute, really fuckin’ smart. She so clearly understands what needs to be communicated. The song is not pretty and it is not nice. So her tone is a bit “dirty.” The verses are layered so that you get the impression that Brandy is arguing with herself about whether or not its really over.
The bridge then is the heart of the song. It’s the moment where the realization that the relationship is over sets in. Brandy goes slightly off key here (in the ad libs especially) and, in doing so, perfectly captures that feeling of frustration, a slight hint of regret, and ultimately, acceptance.
All of this is very subtle and very specific. And it genuinely moves you.
However, Apart is overlooked (or even dismissed) in reviews of Full Moon because of the production, I think. But a closer listen reveals the rare pop song where everything you hear exists for a very specific emotional purpose. This is a tight song; no excess. This attention to detail just doesn’t happen often.