Shantaia tries to live her best single life on ‘Exes and Friends’

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Recommended Tracks: “Had a Good Weekend”, “Damaged Goods”, “Exes and Friends”
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There are exes. There are friends. But can your exes become your friends? It may seem unlikely, as moving past the conflict that caused the breakup is easier said than done. Plus, there are the hurt feelings, the questionable boundaries… To avoid further drama, it would make sense to stay nothing more than exes. Yet, what do you do when your ex starts popping up in public, unannounced, with their new partner? Well, Shantaia has been there, and she tells you all about it on her debut album, Exes and Friends.

Shantaia has created a strong concept album with Exes and Friends, dividing the album into three sections that are made for friends, exes, and that awkward space in between. For the friends, she gives us anthem after anthem, starting with “Curfew.” She takes us back in time on this track to her high school days, when her and her friends were “crushin’ on our brothers’ best friends” and had “part-time money to spend.” As she gets older, she becomes fonder of these memories, sort of buying into that belief that the best years of life were spent in high school. Yet, there are times when she recreates some of this fun, as we hear on “Had a Good Weekend.” On this party anthem, Shantaia makes us want to sing karaoke with her, get tipsy, and do fun shit just for the hell of it. She reminds us throughout the track, “If you wake up Monday morning still hung over with your friends, you had a good weekend,” which has me questioning my life choices because I’ve never had that experience at the start of the work week. The good times continue on, though, on “Damaged Goods,” where Shantaia gives a friendly shout-out to all those out there who are going through a rough or unexpected time right now. After making commentary on the people in her hometown, like the promising quarter back who had to pass up a career in football or the popular cheerleader who became a mom too soon, she declares, “Damaged goods ain’t that bad / Get us together and we ain’t sad / Lots of stories, lots of scars / No regrets ‘cause we go hard.”

For the exes, Shantaia shares what it feels like to move on after the breakup. We understand that there is an urgency to come out on top, as described on the country rock anthem “Broke to Brand New.” Lines like “They say when one door closes, another one opens / All I got is a window with glass that is broken / Damn her and you and your new perfect view,” illuminate the struggle to move on and get to a better place no matter how desperate you are to get there. And when you feel as if you have moved on, the buzz from a party or from a drink convincing you that you are doing great, there can be moments when the wounds open back up. On “Hung Over You,” Shantaia touches on this notion, revealing, “Didn’t know I needed closure / It’s been a rollercoaster / Now I’ve got a heartbreak hangover.” These downhearted moments can be triggered by the instances we hear on “Best Yet,” involving run-ins with the ex. While it is a pretty emotional track, giving us details like “You never looked better with a better lookin’ me,” it is also full and lively, making it more of a poignant bop than a tragic tune.

Finally, there are the songs for those who are between exes and friends. On “Know You,” Shantaia recounts the personal details of her ex, like the cologne he wears and the time he gets up in the morning, but then painfully asks, “What am I supposed to do when I know everything about you but I don’t know you?” It is such an uncomfortable place to be, made all the more unsettling on the title track. Setting the mood with the melancholy sounds of the piano, Shantaia gets vulnerable on this one, opening up and accepting the split for what it is. She sings, “It feels so strange goin’ from hugs to handshakes / ‘Cause you know what I look like naked / Sunday morning, sippin’ coffee, no makeup / You’ve seen every part of me.” She then lets this ex know that she tries to act like they ended on good terms because when you are “stuck between exes and friends,” it easiest to pretend like all is well – but it’s hard.

Overall, Shantaia gives us the full story on Exes and Friends. We hear what it is like to live that single life after a split, from going out and having fun to taking a step back and realizing that there is still a bit of loneliness looming. Along with these stories, Shantaia defines her sound and her goals as a songwriter, incorporating strong, intimate lyrics with bold, infectious melodies. This is definitely an album that will guide someone through a breakup or assist someone in having fun, which are goals that Shantaia previously expressed when discussing the album. In the end, she invokes comfort, hope, and solidarity, leaving us stronger than we started.

You can listen to Exes and Friends on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

Keep up with Shantaia: Instagram // Facebook // Twitter // TikTok // YouTube // Website

Christine Sloman
Christine Slomanhttps://linktr.ee/christine.sloman
Writer for Melodic Mag since 2018. Music lover since always.

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