At just 18 years old, Sunderland-born Tom A. Smith flaunts an ability to concisely paint a picture worth a thousand words with “Never Good Enough”.
The efforts that the British indie rocker has put forth this year, including his debut extended play “EP 1”, have served to prophesize an idiosyncratic presence on the rise – and this single does not deviate from said path.
Even as “Never Good Enough” abides to the stereotypical structure of your favorite indie anthem, with reprises dominating the majority of its length only corroborated by nearly-mirroring verses, Smith’s frustration amid a supposedly one-sided relationship rings true from end to end – his dispirited yet powerful emotional display is far from muddled by a reverb fixation that catches up to so many of his counterparts, and what the listener finds before them is a succinct and relatable ode to giving your all to a partner without reciprocation.
Far-reaching lines such as “any time I try and make you smile, it’s never quite good enough for you” and “I have a destructive streak, don’t think that I am weak” bounce off of each other effortlessly, encapsulating the sense of anguish that comes from not only being unappreciated, but ridiculed and put at a distance by that certain someone for not meeting their expectations.
While “Never Good Enough” may have been spawned from a low point, the upbeat baseline and the frankness of Smith’s voice make me think that this song is a testament to his self-worth. The instrumentation is bouncy through-and-through, and the listener may almost feel a tinge of jubilation should they recognize that Smith is over and done with sacrificing himself for no good reason – especially if said listener is in a similar predicament.
Subject matter aside, Smith’s artistry is remarkable for a musician of any age. The riffing that fuels “Never Good Enough” to a climax as the song closes is of his own doing, as is the case for any guitar showmanship in his discography. It’s inspiring stuff, and if you want a more intimate glimpse of what this man can do on song and stage, take a look at his performance of “Dragonfly” at Old Fire Station on YouTube – this dude is legit.
Tom A. Smith has a mesmerizing sound reminiscent of Catfish and the Bottlemen and The Cure, and I would say that his work would make these idols proud if it hasn’t already. He’s performed with the former, he’s caught the eyes of the latter, and he’s been having conversations with Elton John and performing at Glastonbury while most of us have been unaware of his impact. Hop on the Tom Train as soon as possible, and watch his rise to stardom with pride.
By Aidan Mega