Nashville singer/songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield’s 2014 album Make My Head Sing... is among my all-time favorites, and for good reason: Throughout, Mayfield sings numbly about turbulent romance, drugs, and her own death, with periodic sparks of deadpan wit (like her stuttered “sa-sa-sa-sa-sa-sadness” on “Seein* Starz”). She’s an incredible storyteller—just listen to “I Wanna Love You,” which is told from the perspective of her stalker against the sinister guitar riff from Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” But even as Mayfield sings about painful experiences, on Make My Head Sing... she sounds cool and detached, suspended in outer space with her glittery pink electric guitar echoing across the cosmos.
Before releasing her new album Sorry Is Gone last year, Mayfield posted a photo to Instagram showing herself in a hospital bed, with a message explaining that she was recovering from an injury related to a domestic violence incident. “This is not uncommon,” she wrote. “I want to tell anyone who is protecting their abuser that it’s not worth it... My silence helps no one except the person who did this to me.”
Sorry Is Gone deals with the aftermath of this abusive relationship, but the focus is always on the highs and lows of Mayfield’s recovery. And her recovery isn’t a linear path—the album continuously cycles through hopelessness, fear, optimism, anger, and joy. The anthemic title track is its most assured: “I deserve to occupy this space without feeling like I don’t belong,” Mayfield belts over warm organ beams, “I’m done excusing myself/I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but sorry is gone.”
But that’s not where the album ends; there are nine more songs after “Sorry Is Gone” that struggle with isolation (“Bum Me Out”), flashbacks (“Soaked Through”), and wondering if anyone’s safe to trust (“Safe 2 Connect 2”). With her new record, Mayfield unapologetically tells her story and empowers other survivors by illustrating how healing from trauma can be a lifelong process.