With her self-titled sophomore album, Carly Pearce presents herself as a mature artist, songwriter and woman.
There’s a spirit that runs through the album, one that’s free, charismatic and romantic, yet intentional about exploring deeper subject matters. Pearce introduces the album with a bubbly energy on the fun and flirty opening tracks “Closer to You” and “Call Me” that sound tailor made for a woman whose newly fallen in love. She reaches the peak of this blissful feeling as she duets with husband Michael Ray on the Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini-penned “Finish Your Sentences.” The back and forth exchange sees the two completing each other’s sentences while embracing a flair that calls back to the 90s.
The latter portion of the album sees Pearce transitioning into someone who is confident in this newfound love. She demonstrates this maturity on “Lightning in a Bottle,” the suave and bluesy love song that instantly raises its hand as one of the album’s best. Her voice evokes an image of a peaceful summer night under the stars, showing off a new facet of her vocal talent that adds a twinkle to the album.
The singer also makes a point to explore depths outside of these lighthearted topics, interweaving songs of honesty and grief that force Pearce to analyze herself, like with the deeply personal “Halfway Home.” During her album release show in Nashville, Pearce shared how the track is inspired by the guilt she carried after breaking up with an ex-boyfriend. It seemingly looks at the other side of “Every Little Thing,” her breakthrough hit in 2017 that established her place in modern country music. Pearce expressed how she learned an important lesson writing the potent hit – “vulnerability trumps everything” – a mindset she channeled into “Halfway Home.” “You can try to tell a heart, to feel something that it don’t, but halfway to heaven isn’t heaven, and halfway home just ain’t home,” she sings with passion, conviction and beauty that allows one to feel the anguish she endured in making that decision.
She takes this emotional wisdom one step further with “It Won’t Always Be Like This.” The resonant ballad co-penned by Pearce, Natalie Hemby and Sam Ellis reflects the unwavering admiration they share for their hometowns and the most important people in their lives, their grandfathers, making it a guaranteed tear-jerker. Packed with nostalgia, the song prompts the listener to place oneself in those precious life moments that are now mere memories. It’s enough to bring tears to one’s eyes as Pearce croons, “Lookin at you, looking back at me, all I wanna do, is make another memory, and love you like it’s the end, cause it won’t always be like this,” making for one of the album’s highlights.
With her sophomore album, Pearce proves that she’s an artist confidently coming into her own, as the work feels more developed than her debut. The mystifying air surrounding the production quality and her voice, a testament to the noteworthy talent of late producer busbee (this was the last full album he completed before his untimely passing from brain cancer in 2019) demonstrates true growth and maturity, solidifying Carly Pearce as an important milestone in the career of a burgeoning powerhouse.