Written by Hero Magnus

It’s always interesting to hear an artist’s official debut single; no matter what they’ve released before on a smaller scale, a “debut” single is a serious work. Ben Kessler’s Good Enough” is an awesome first track from a very young, but seasoned writer and musician. 

Ben Kessler produced an album in his parents’ basement in Philadelphia when he was fifteen. Very quickly, he gained national radio airplay and a variety of awards. Most of Kessler’s press coverage has been centered around his age, but there’s much more to him than just precocity. 

Still very young, Kessler moved to Nashville, writing and producing for other artists. But, to record “Good Enough,” he went back to Pennsylvania, to the basement where it all started. (This story reminds me of the song “Little Room” by the White Stripes. Jack White growls about creative growth: “You’re in your little room / and you’re working on something good / but if it’s really good / you’re gonna need a bigger room / and when you’re in your bigger room / you might not know what to do / you might have to think of / how you got started / sitting in your little room.”) Kessler produced “Good Enough” himself, and is releasing a batch of new songs on his own label, VYB; He’s a DIY musician for the DIY age.

“Love the way she speaks / so see-through,” Kessler sings in the first verse, right away showing off a talent for understatedly clever lyrics. His voice is the perfect mixture of resonant and earnest. “Perfect on paper… wondering if there’s anybody else out there,” he continues, bursting the bubble of the little love story until he finally gets to the real problem: “Why is it when it’s good / it never feels good enough?” 

I like how “Good Enough” is beholden to no particular genre. The verses are kind of poppy, with some soft r&b textures. But, it features slide-like synthesizers and snaps that add color to the chorus, and then the post-chorus jumps into vocal distortion and electronica without sounding like a cheesy DJ remix. The production is subtle and original: every element is present barely long enough to notice before it fades. 

And the bridge pushes Kessler’s vocals into the background while cozy guitar patterns move to the front. “Always looking for a way out… I wanna feel good enough,” sings Kessler. It’s not just that he’s unsatisfied because the relationship wasn’t good enough, or that his good times are never good enough. There’s a serious twinge of insecurity that maybe it’s really him who isn’t good enough. 

“Good Enough” covers a lot of sonic and emotional ground. I’m excited to see what’s next from Ben Kessler. Check out his debut below!

Listen to Ben Kessler’s “Good Enough”

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