Carly Pearce Is Writing Songs About the ‘Hard’ Experience of Learning to Love Again After Divorce
As Carly Pearce looks ahead to her next album cycle, she's facing a daunting task: The prospect of following up an album that, so far, has given her the biggest moments of her career.
That project is 29: Written in Stone, a body of work that Pearce first released as a seven-song EP in early 2021 and expanded into a full-length album that September. In addition to hitting her stride as a country music traditionalist, Pearce also successfully tapped into a well of grief, pain and heartbreak as she wrote the album's songs, inspired by the death of her producer and friend Busbee, as well as her highly publicized 2020 divorce from Michael Ray, to whom she'd been married for a short eight months.
The 29 album cycle saw Pearce successfully rising to the challenge of sharing her story in her music — even when that story was almost unbearably painful. The payoff was worth the effort: Pearce's first single off 29, "Next Girl," was a Top 15 hit, and her duet with Ashley McBryde, "Never Wanted to Be That Girl," hit the top of the country charts.
Not long after, she earned an invitation to become a Grand Ole Opry member — a long-held dream for the singer — from none other than Dolly Parton, and she won Female Artist of the Year trophies at both the CMA and ACM Awards in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
The prospect of following up such a resoundingly successful album is enough to daunt any artist, but Pearce is banking on a skill that hasn't failed her yet: Honest, clear-headed songwriting.
"What I have to remind myself is, all 29 was, was how I see the world," she tells Taste of Country. The subject matter that informed that project is — hopefully, for her personal life — unlike any material she'll ever have to draw from again. Still, every stage of life poses its own challenges, disappointments and triumphs.
"Yes, it's an exciting time for me with my career. My love life is flourishing and it's wonderful. But also, life is a push and pull," Pearce points out. "Trying to love again? That's kind of hard. Trying to navigate your life? That's kind of hard, but also beautiful and crazy."
In other words, the subject matter may be different, but the songwriting process hasn't changed.
"[I'm] just going into it with the mindset of being 100 percent vulnerable with where I am in my life," Pearce reflects, "and I think fans will meet me there."
In the meantime, Pearce is nominated for five awards at November's CMA Awards ceremony. Together with McBryde, she's mentioned in a whopping five categories for "Never Wanted to Be That Girl," and she's up for a repeat Female Vocalist of the Year win at the show, too.