Carly Pearce

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Every Little Thing (2017), 6/10
Carly Pearce (2020), 4/10
29 Written in Stone (2021), 6/10

Kentucky's country singer Carly Pearce rose to prominence with the solemn elegy Every Little Thing (2017), the centerpiece of her album Every Little Thing (2017). That single and the similarly quasi-soul If My Name Was Whiskey are actually not representative of the other songs. Michael Busbee's production and arrangement creates a dense, sparkling, chromatic texture, whether in the lively Color or in the ballad Dare Ya.

Despite coming three years later, Carly Pearce (2020) was painfully devoid of substance.

Her divorce and the death of her producer inspired the seven-song EP 29 (2021), arranged in a very nostalgic way with banjo, fiddle and pedal steel. Without Busbee she was a different kind of singer, much more traditional in Next Girl (a 2020 single cowritten by professional songwriters and producers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne like most of the EP), and in Show Me Around (a touching tribute to Busbee, cowritten with Emily Shackleton and Ben West). The EP was however varied enough, ranging the gamut from the catchy singalong Should've Known Better (cowritten by Jordan Reynolds and Emily Shackleton) to the syncopated and bluesy Liability (McAnally-Osborne) and to the vibrant ballad Day One (cowritten by Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne and Matthew Ramsey), with a surge of pathos in the bleak, pain-infused, autobiographical 29 (about her divorce, another McAnally-Osborne creation). The EP was later expanded into the album 29 Written in Stone (2021), which contains a lot of filler but also some significant additions: the sprightly single I Hope You're Happy Now (a duet with country star Lee Brice produced again by Busbee just before he died), the poignant single Never Wanted to Be That Girl (a duet with Ashley McBryde), the rowdy saloon honkytonk Easy Going (a pale Patty Loveless imitation composed by Natalie Hemby and Josh Osborne) and especially the Rolling Stones-ian Your Drinkin' My Problem (by Nicolle Galyon, Sasha Sloan and Ben West) and the jump-blues Diamondback (composed by Kelsea Ballerini, Tofer Brown and Shane McAnally in the vein of the clapping gospel style popularized by Adele's Rolling in the Deep).

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