A famous poet once said: Tell the truth but tell it slant.
In other words: have a way of explicating what’s going on around you and in your life. But do it with something memorable, via dynamic methods.
Well, songwriter and performer Shelby Darrall does all of that admirably on her debut EP, Entertainment For The Brokenhearted. Here, the Napa Valley-raised, Nashville native tells us the inside scoop, as if reading from her diary, about her new record and the inspirations for it: namely, a broken heart.
On the new record, she wonders, What is the lifespan of a relationship? What are the life lessons, the personal realizations? And both in her new album and in the explanations below, we find those answers. Of course, listening to the EP, your ears are treated with style.
The six-song work is a page-turner, so to speak, and once you get through each, you’ll know both yourself and Darrall that much better. So, without further ado, let’s see what Darrall has to say about her creation in her own insightful words.
The I shouldn’t be doing this but I am stage.
“Wrong Hands” is the first song on the track list because it’s that beginning point when something is so exciting and new that you could really care less how many people tell you this person may not be the best choice for you. It’s the naive and backless part of the relationship that makes it so hard to walk away later on. It’s also the infamous “you don’t know him like I do” part, where all your friends that hate him so much but they don’t see what he’s like when it’s just the two of you so you stubbornly have to disregard anything they say about it. I think the Wrong Hands chapter of a new relationship feels like you’re 15 in high school again and sneaking around with the bad boy Senior your parents don’t approve of.
“I Want You To Leave”
The butterfly stage
Contrary to its title, the song is actually about really wanting someone to stay. It’s the part where you fall in love with all the little things that person does or says and start getting used to having them around. I want you to leave is the most lighthearted song on the project because I wanted it to match the feelings at that stage of the relationship. Even production on this song feels easy and fun, just like when you start really falling for someone. This may be the only happy song I’ve ever written because I’m a such big sad song fan, but I love that this song kind of shows a different side of me. I’m not always sad or bitchy I just hate being disappointed.
I wrote both “I Want You To Leave and “Wrong Hands” with Lydia Vaughan (one of my favorite writers and people EVER). Lydia is just so talented and writing with her flows very easily, it probably helped that I vented all my shit to her for about an hour before we even started writing so BIG shout out to Lydia for doubling as my therapist. But seriously I’m honored to have a writer and friend like her on this project with me.
“Pick Me Up”
The first let down
Pick Me Up will always be one of the most special songs I’ve ever written, yes it’s a sad song about me getting my heart broken, but I also kind of think of it as a thank you letter to my dad. It’s a very humbling little experience to break out into a full tears, red face, can’t catch your breath meltdown at a gas station so when it happened to me I felt like I should really capitalize on it. At that moment I just felt like a little kid again and all I wanted was for my Dad to come fix it for me. I spent my whole life having my dad pick me up and as I got older I realized I’ll probably always need him to do that, just not in the same way. I feel like Dads of girls really get put through the wringer because I can’t imagine it was easy getting that call from his only daughter and not immediately trying to find this jerk’s address. His voice just helped and I can’t explain why, but he’s one of my best friends in the whole world and I know he’ll have to deal with many more calls like that one so this song is for him.
I wrote “Pick Me Up” with Noby Sidez. I actually think it was our first write ever and I was nervous so I had this idea pretty laid out and thank God he liked it and wanted to bring it to life with me. Noby is such a no-bullshit co-writer, like will straight up tell me if a line or melody sucks BUT immediately help find a better one and I love that about him. Pick me up was a relatively easy song to write because it is so specific to the situation that it’s about, so it flowed pretty easily.
“Love Me When I’m Leavin'”
I don’t think any relationships just get to end clean. Good for you if you can cut yourself off cold turkey but I don’t think most people have that type of self-control, I suuuure don’t. Love me when I’m leaving is about knowing you’re in a bad spot but tricking yourself into thinking it’s somehow romantic—for example, who the fuck wants to stay with someone that only wants them when they leave? It’s not a rom-com it’s a red flag kids. This song does have a badass anthem feel to it though, I like that it lets me show a little bit of my angsty side.
I wrote this song with Troy Verges and Jake Mitchell, two writers that I feel are way out of my league so I felt blessed to be in that room. I remember walking in and having Jake immediately say, ‘Okay no more of this sad girl shit, we’re writing an uptempo’ and I’m so happy he said it because then LMWIL was born.
“Lied To Too”
Oh shit moment
“Lied To Too” was the hardest song for me to write. I always refer to this song as my grow-up moment. Seeing the person you thought you loved with someone else really hurts, and it would’ve been the easy choice to hate her instead of him but honestly, when I saw her face for the first time all I can really remember is feeling heartbroken for her too. She was looking at him the same way I did and it made me realize she was hurt just as badly by him. I’ll probably never meet her and she may never hear this song but it’s an explanation and an apology to her and I really mean it.
I got to write this song with a writer I really look up to, who also happens to be one of my best friends. Emily Weisband is really a writer unlike any other. This was our first write together so I was honestly nervous it wasn’t gonna go well and then our friendship would be awkward… but it was great. Emily was kind of right by my side throughout this whole thing so she really knew everything about before we sat down to write. She’s such a melodic and lyrical genius and I can’t imagine having written this song with any other writer in the whole world.
Bitter but better off
“Happy First” is about being mature enough to wish someone the best but just wishing you got the best first. The idea that he’s the reason I was hurt but gets to be happy before me just seemed unfair. I hope this song reminds people to feel validated in their feelings. I don’t think you don’t have to be a pillar of strength and forgiveness at all times, you can wish you were happy before someone else without feeling like you’re being immature. I ended the EP with this song because it felt like a fitting finale, the last line of the song is I just wanted to be happy and that’s all I wanted the whole time, but I didn’t need him for it.
I was pretty nit-picky with the production on this one and on “Lied To Too.” My incredible producer Ron Fair was amazing and really let me weigh into this project and how it came out and these two songs in particular I was a little stubborn with. I just needed the production to match the vulnerability and kind of stripped-down emotion of the songs and I think Ron did exactly that.
I wrote this song with two incredible writers Josh Kerr and Emily Falvey. Josh is another great friend of mine and has always been one of my favorite writers in Nashville so I’m really honored to have him on a song on my debut project. This was the first time I’d ever written with Falvey and it felt like she was inside my brain, she’s incredible and another writer I feel very blessed to work with.