“Empty Cups” is a lyrical tour-de-force, as the narrator’s focus becomes hooked on shimmering details that seem important in the wake of a calamity. “You were looking away towards the trees,” Shires begins. “There was a time you used to listen closer to me/ As close as the air is to the sea.”
“I recorded ‘Empty Cups’ after everyone left because I didn’t want to accidentally cry or get a shaky voice in front of my friends,” Shires said in a statement. “I asked Maren to sing on this one because our voices blend like sisters and because I knew that wherever my voice wavered, she’d be steady.”
The song comes with a live recorded music video that found Shires and Morris standing on a carpet of red hearts that someone had thrown on the ground, while Isbell played behind them in a swanky (?) long coat. When Morris joins in the chorus, singing, “Now my hands are two empty cups/ Maybe I was asking for a little too much,” her delicate voice floats above Shires’ powerful belt like smoke over glowing hot coals.
But it’s Shires who owns the stage. A highly-polished singer, she nevertheless makes her voice sound tired and beaten down, putting extra grind on the word “hole” when she wails, “You’re leaving now through the hole of an argument/ I guess for awhile you’ve been looking for the exit/ You slammed the door so hard I still hear rattling spoons/ The sound of silence rings in every room.”
“Empty Cups” is the latest single from her upcoming album Take It Like a Man, out July 29th. Check it out below. Previously, she shared “Hawk for the Dove” and the title track. You’ll be able to hear those songs live on her upcoming 2022 tour. It kicks off in September, and tickets are available here.