Shelby Earl’s “Swift Arrows” video opens with an ominous tone before immediately snapping into a bright doo-wop piano rhythm. Then Earl comes in with a tender voice, detailing the nastiness that happens after a split with a loved one. Between Earl’s melancholia and the thunderous orchestra that rumbles across the song halfway through, it’s equal parts Patsy Cline and Phil Spector. Meanwhile, the world’s most disastrous (and surreal) wedding anniversary plays across the screen. It’s shocking, horrific and just a little bit funny.
“‘Swift Arrows’ is about the experience of being hurt by someone you once trusted and coming out of it a warrior, rather than a victim,” Earl tells Rolling Stone. “It’s also about our very human desire for revenge and the inclination to fire ‘swift arrows’ at those who’ve caused us pain, rather than choosing to heal and move on. When Neil Ferron, the writer-director, and I met to discuss ideas for the video, we decided we wanted to tell the story of an absurdly painful life event that ends up being unexpectedly redemptive.”
Earl quit her day job at Amazon to become a full-time musician four years ago. Judging by her themes, it would seem she’s suffered her fair share of pain, but given “Swift Arrows,” it might have been worth it.