This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.

Heartbreak can cause a lot of emotions. For many of us, a breakup is followed by a couple weeks (or months) of self-loathing masked by the temporary comfort of salty snacks and sweet treats, binge watching our favorite flicks and relearning to live on our own. For Mandy Groves, heartache is the source of inspiration for her latest EP, Blame.

Groves mused, “In the process of writing these songs and creating them, I gained a lot of perspective and I also got closer to closure with the issues I wrote about.” Walking away from the situation with a new EP and deeper understanding of that time in her life, it’s safe to say Groves knows how to turn lemons into lemonade. Like the ups and downs of a relationship, Blame takes the listener through a journey of self-reflection and lingers in the thoughts that accompany one’s mind through the experience of a breakup. This isn’t a smear campaign about an ex-lover, however. Groves takes a refreshing approach to a split by admitting responsibility for her own well-being and recognizes when it’s time to move on.

Photo of Mandy Groves by Minyoung Lee

As a local singer, dancer and commercial artist, Groves has little downtime for artistic contemplations. Groves recalls, “Once I made the call to start creating this EP, it was immediately crunch time from the get-go. We only had a month to create this all from scratch.” Forced to face her emotions head-on, Groves dove into her experience and placed her trust in the hands of a new team that luckily, worked in her favor.

“This EP was an experience and an experiment,” she said.  “I worked with all new people in a whirlwind of a situation and I’m in awe of what we accomplished in such a short time.”

Rising from the ashes is a five-track EP that opens with “Mourning,” a song about finding out that people aren’t always who they say they are. While that may be a painful discovery, it’s better to know the truth than continue feeding a lie. Following with the track “Guilty,” one might assume the second selection is about catching a lover red-handed, but instead Groves pleads guilty herself, opening the song with “I’m guilty of loving you, I’m guilty of trying to, I’m guilty of missing signs, so guilty but I keep on trying.

The unavoidable pain comes to a head in “Honey.” Far from sweet ramblings, Groves takes a stab at the situation, jumping in with the lyrics, “Why the fuck I fall for you? Got me lookin’ like a fool.” Groves holds nothing back in “Honey” by pouring her emotions into her lyrics, “I’m not as sweet as I seem, got you thinkin’ I’m a dream, slowing dripping sugar sweet, I will not be your honey.”

Following in suit true to the timeline of a break-up, Groves gains some distance from the situation and reflects on the severity (or lack thereof) of the issues in “That Bad.” Questioning if it was even “that bad,” Groves reminds us all to take a step back and look at the relationship from a different perspective before writing it off completely.

Groves states, “When I played it back, I was like, ‘I’m giving my own self advice!’ It was such a direct line to my subconscious and served as a warning sign for me to work on my relationships with the ones I love rather than shut down during such a straining time in my life.

Closing with the instrumental outro “Night,” Groves brings her experience full circle for an EP that births wisdom and maturity from a situation that rarely produces that outcome.

Groves leaves us with a promising look at the future. “Healing is always a work in progress but over the short month of working on this EP, I learned a lot about myself and I was able to apply the things I was learning in real time. I plan to keep moving forward at this same speed and with the same strength I’ve found through this project.”

Join Groves in letting go at ReCreative Denver on June 10.