Review: Eliza McLamb (Is Not) ‘Doing Fine’

Eliza McLamb’s songwriting provides explanations and comfort to listeners who need it.

Eliza McLambs Doing Fine original cover art.

Royal Mountain Records

Eliza McLamb’s “Doing Fine” original cover art.

by Rosalie Johnson, Reporter, Assistant Editor

Listening to Eliza McLamb’s “Doing Fine” for the first time in late September was, in essence, otherworldly. Very few things can make me completely stop whatever I am doing and whatever I am thinking and entirely focus on exclusively it, and McLamb succeeded in doing so. Sitting in my car in the Bucklin Hill Starbucks parking lot at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday with an iced chai tea latte in hand, I listened with a dropped jaw and silent mind with the exception of McLamb’s powerful lyrics and tone in “Doing Fine.”

“Doing Fine” did not start with a musical introduction that led into lyrics; rather, without hesitation, the first few seconds are of McLamb singing, immediately drawing the listener into the music and story it tells. Through a smooth and easy voice, McLamb shares that she’s been actually okay (“I’ve been feelin’ alright, I think that I’m on the mend”), lending itself to a hopeful outlook towards lifting oneself out of a dark season. However, the song reveals that she still continues to experience persistent and unrelenting sadness. 

Unlike many songs detailing this occurrence, McLamb details not only the sadness, but the guilt and frustration with having something in the back of your mind eating away at you without cessation while life is seemingly going well. 

In her telling, this song is not one of romanticization but rather redefinition. Through McLamb’s writing, depression is no longer glamorized or tiptoed around; in her world, depression is dreams of pulling dead dogs on leashes and telling yourself you are not alone and that is what makes you unspecial.

McLamb expresses her inability to identify a reason for feeling sad and the resulting guilt, reserving her breakdowns for night, away from others’ eyes and potential judgment.

Repeating the phrase “snap out of it” over ten times on the path to the “Doing Fine” bridge, McLamb smartly and nearly-sarcastically reflects the dismissive attitude that is often afforded to those struggling with sadness and depression. In an escalating crescendo in her bridge, McLamb quite literally screams that she’s “doing fine” – something cathartic, relieving, and completely exhilarating to listeners, emphasizing how she feels that she should be doing fine and actually is doing fine in an attempt to convince herself that this falsehood is reality.

McLamb’s mental and social wisdom is comforting and aspirational. Her analytical metaphors, discernment, and talent excess – both in lyricism and singing – provide listeners with a new understanding of depression experiences or a new way to explain or understand one’s own depressive struggle. Her delicate, dynamic, and commanding voice and tone is soothing to the mind and ear; McLamb and those with her skill are entirely necessary and completely welcome in modern environments in which we are all living. 

Like so many, I found a piece of myself in “Doing Fine”. I found the answer to the questions I found myself angrily asking: “what am I even feeling? Why am I feeling this way?”. I found explanations, solace, and comfort; I found understanding and acceptance; I found something true and tangible in an area I was beginning to expect would never be clear or comprehensible to me. 

I found something that felt exactly right, an answer I didn’t know existed yet one that helped something fall into place. I found relief in the feeling that I am now one step closer to “doing fine.”

And for that and their beauty, with love, admiration, and immense gratitude, Eliza McLamb and “Doing Fine” will always be welcome on my radio.