Szandra Mayer Releases New Single “Never Really Good Enough”

A bass comes creeping from the shadows and suddenly breaks open the floodgates on a heavenly harmony from none other than Szandra Mayer. There’s a reticence in her voice that sounds a lot like heartache. The melody that she’s straddling is ominous but spiked with a dash of hope inside of the clashing synthesizer and bassline. Her contemplations are fueling the emotional backdrop in the music, but there’s nowhere for us to run. The patterned percussive fabric in the drumming weaves an inescapable web that we’ll soon find ourselves utterly trapped in. This is “Never Really Good Enough,” and don’t let its title fool you; for this could well be the best ballad that Szandra Mayer has ever recorded.

We descend deeper into the track and find that the levels are only going to swell alongside the emotionally-charged content of the lyrics. The sway of the percussion is breathtaking, but it doesn’t outshine the visceral cadence of the words at all. There’s a robotic element to the way that the verses are aligned with the bass just stoically enough for the drums to interrupt the even flow of their dispatches, and rather than sounding abstract or avant-garde in nature, I found it to be more jazz-inspired in tone than anything else. Szandra Mayer is giving her vocal vibrato a workout in “Never Really Good Enough,” but like the well-educated student of the new sonic school that she is, she doesn’t overshoot her ambitious goals in this song at all.

The chorus careens out of the darkness and punches us right in the gut the first time that we hear it, and the second time around its delivery is slightly less intense but just as immaculate in tonality. The rhythm shifts a little to make some space for Mayer to give us everything she’s got in the charming hook that she’s tucked into the finish here, but it doesn’t leave us underwhelmed by the next set of verses that follow. Much like a piece of classical music, “Never Really Good Enough” is played out in synchronized movements, and though I won’t be the first critic to go out on a limb and call this her most progressive offering so far, it should be said that she’s definitely cultivating an ear for the artier side of pop/rock in this single.

Instead of utilizing a grandiose display of virtuosity and melodic fireworks to close out “Never Really Good Enough,” Szandra Mayer went with a minimalist-style outro that brings us to our knees through its plaintive, lyrically-centric show of strength that brings the song to a potent conclusion and leaves anyone with a pulse itching to play the single all over again. I had a lot of near-impossible expectations coming into this review, and while Mayer has never disappointed me before, she’s operating on an entirely different level in this track and showing off a skillset that has dramatically evolved in the last year (for the better). Straight up, this single is all the evidence that I need in verifying her authenticity as a truly gifted solo artist.

Gwen Waggoner