Stasney Mav's Heartbreak Hits Close to the Chest On 'Bullet'

Stasney Mav
Andrea Schollnick

Stasney Mav

Stasney Mav’s latest single "Bullet," premiering exclusively on Billboard today (Aug. 16), is a crying-in-the-club anthem rendered in the vein of Robyn’s masterworks or Halsey’s own tale of queer heartache “Strangers.”

The Houston-born, Nashville-bred singer and poly-instrumentalist, also known as Caroline Shumate, demands consistency, especially with matters of the heart.

“The last couple of years have been really tough, to be honest,” she tells Billboard. “My personal and work lives have been anything but consistent, and ‘Bullet' is the song that made me believe in what I was making again.”

Previously one-half of the Queen and King — a duo she formed with former touring mate Greg Graves that gained recognition for their hand-spun, largely-acoustic covers — Shumate ventured off on her own this year, now crafting electropop with a glittery undercurrent under the moniker Stasney Mav.

Her new output as Mav is a largely one-woman affair: she sings, plays and writes her material, and is en route to self-producing her own tracks.

“All my friends say that I dodged a bullet/But it feels like I straight up took it in the chest,” Mav sighs, dejected, over a brisk, pulsing synth line. A familiar overture of desire soured by emotional distance, it’s a tale of queer love fizzled out and reignited in the wee hours at the club, maybe after a shot or two too many.

"I think most people have been in a relationship where they know the best thing (for both people) is to end it,” Mav explains. “But that doesn't mean the hurt isn't overwhelming.”

“Bullet” hits the closest when the imagery turns inward, her muscle memory and her loneliness collide in an overwhelming moment of weakness. “Here I am/Picking up the phone, 713,” she sings to herself, like she’s done this a million times before to a partner she left behind in Houston. She gains her composure: “Guess I’m better off saving my love for me.”

Heartache, amid the emotional wreckage, warrants new opportunities for discovery and introspection, and, for Mav, “Bullet” couldn’t have come at a more vital turning point.

Stasney Mav is playing The OutLoud Festival in Nashville on Sept. 8, headlined by Big Freedia, Betty Who and Cupcakke.

Check out the gleaming “Bullet” below: