Still There’s Only Pain is a song taken from a pop/rock musical Unfolding Temporary, which is based on a script by Elena C. Lockleis. The musical is based around a college girl called Jane who’s struggling with severe mental health issues but finds herself falling in love with a classmate, Naomi. This reverses her seemingly irreversible decline and both the book and the musical address the issues of depression and anxiety in an open and honest way to bring these important problems of modern life to the forefront. The musical was adapted from the book by Jon Worthy and this track is sung by Jessica Bell.
The song is a highly emotive epic ballad that brought to mind artists such as Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift and Sia. Featuring a powerful, sensitive vocal performance from Jessica Bell, the track is mid paced with a suitably melancholy vibe, from the simple but effective beat to the echo drenched guitar. This relatively minimalist musical bedrock allows the lyrical message of the song to come to the fore.
The first verse is a moving depiction of someone battling with depression and anxiety: “Doctor says take the pill, it will clear your mind, it will make you well….the problem is I’m not fixable…”. It builds up to the stately chorus, the words capturing the emotional torment of fighting against a mental illness: “I wanna feel happy not bad, just glad to be alive …”. The lyrics on the second chorus are more desperate, expressing a deep need to simply experience the regular things that make us human: “I wanna be normal, and laugh and flirt and lust and all the things between…but I’m falling down deeper and deeper…”. The recurring refrain, “I have so much pain” becomes one of the motifs of the song, which builds to a cathartic climax.
Overall, this is a beautifully written and performed pop/rock ballad dealing with the difficult but important issue of mental health. Being part of a musical, the song has more of a moving narrative than most pop tracks and the superb lead of vocals of Jessica Bell make the emotional drama feel very real. Still There’s Only Pain will perhaps become the flagship song of what sounds like a potentially classic contemporary musical.