For the past decade or so, Amanda Shires has sung about the dark shades of relationships — lapsed communication, broken trust, fading intimacy – with a devastating eye for detail. Her latest single “Empty Cups,” a piano ballad featuring her Highwomen collaborator Maren Morris on harmony vocals, is perhaps her most affecting addition to this growing canon of songs, which includes standouts like 2013’s “If I” and 2016’s “Harmless.”
The new track from Shires is the heartbreaking tale of someone craving their partner’s affection as they reflect on their troubled relationship, wondering what could have wrong in the meantime.
“That last talk left me a makeup rainbow of tears,” Shires sings in the second verse. “Turned everything blurry/I can’t see a thing from here.” Shires’ husband, singer-songwriter Jason Isbell, plays guitar on the recording.
“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 says 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.”
“Empty Cups’ is the third song Shires has released from her forthcoming album Take It Like A Man (out July 29). Last month, in the wake of the leak to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the singer spoke with Rolling Stone about the experience of having an ectopic pregnancy in 2021, just weeks before Texas’ abortion ban went into effect.