Sophomore albums are a notoriously tough and daunting undertaking for artists, but when your debut was as well received as Carly Pearce’s 2017 release “ Every Little Thing” the bar is set particularly high. But it’s a challenge that the Kentucky born, Nashville based artist has risen to admirably on her self titled follow up, due for release via Big Machine Label next Friday, 14th February, which is of course Valentines Day and appropriately enough the newly wed artist will be celebrating by performing at “ Hot Country Nights” with her husband and fellow country star Michael Ray in St Louis, MO.
The thirteen tracks are a mix of Carly co-writes and outside cuts with the writing credits reading like a who’s who of music city’s finest, but Carly delivers every track with such conviction they could all have been self-penned, there’s definitely no doubt about her incredible vocal ability which is showcased throughout the great mix of ballads and uptempo numbers. Working once again with producer Busbee …..this was his final body of work before his sad and premature passing last September…. there’s a great deal of variety with the instrumentation with trad country represented courtesy of some brilliant banjo and steel alongside some more contemporary arrangements.
As seems to be the new norm these days, several of the tracks have made available pre release to further whet fan’s appetites, including her latest fun and infectious single “ Heart’s Going Out Of It’s Mind “ ( what a clever title!) a song which I assume reflects her loved-up status, and of course her stunning duet with Lee Brice “ I Hope You’re Happy Now” . Inspired by the true story of a break up, this is her apology to him and is just one example of the honesty and vulnerability she brings to her writing on this album, as indeed she did on its predecessor. I love how both parties give their take on the end to their relationship, their voices complimenting each other so well and also blending beautifully.
Having been privy to the entire album pre-release, of the tracks I had yet to hear it was “Dashboard Jesus“ that leapt out immediately and continue to be one of my favourites. It paints a wonderful picture of a young girl hitting the road to follow her dreams, armed with nothing but a few dollars and her faith in what lies ahead despite everyone saying she’s “ dreaming, crazy for believing” . I love how the verses soar to its anthemic chorus…..and there’s a great guitar solo in the mix too! A modern day country classic to my mind. It’s followed on the track listing by my favourite ballad on this collection, “Halfway Home”, Carly wearing her heart on her sleeve and admitting that she put off ending a relationship as she was scared to do so, berating her selfishness and apologising for the heartbreak she caused. Admitting that her love had faded some time ago…… “ Half of me is with you here tonight and half of me is long gone”, the anguish in her voice it tangible.
And of course I was eager to hear the second duet on the album “Finish Your Sentences” which sees Carly and Michael joining forces, the lighthearted, pop-infused track probably not one of my top choices here but that’s just down to my personal preferences and I’m confident it will appeal to fans of both artists, being a declamation of their love for one another.
I general I’m enjoying this album, hearing different things in it all the time and my favourites changing dependent on my mood, and I expect it will be another well received release for this talented and popular artist.
Carly will be kept busy promoting the release Stateside over the next few months, including joining Old Dominion on their extensive tour as well as performing at several festivals. There’s no European dates announced yet, but of course should we hear anything we’ll let you know immediately.
ALBUM TRACK LISTING /WRITING CREDITS
1. “Closer To You” | Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson, Troy Verges
2. “Call Me” | busbee, Emily Shackelton, Phillip Sweet, Jimi Westbrook
3. “I Hope You’re Happy Now (Carly Pearce and Lee Brice)” | Carly Pearce, Luke Combs, Randy Montana, Jonathan Singleton
4. “Dashboard Jesus” | Victoria Banks, Sara Haze, Emily Shackelton
5. “Halfway Home” | Carly Pearce, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz
6. “Heart’s Going Out Of Its Mind” | Carly Pearce, Joe Ginsberg, Laura Veltz
7. “Finish Your Sentences (Carly Pearce and Michael Ray)” | Kelsea Ballerini, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Thomas Rhett
8. “It Won’t Always Be Like This” | Carly Pearce, Sam Ellis, Natalie Hemby
9. “Lightning In A Bottle” | Hannah Ellis, Anna Vaus
10. “Love Has No Heart” | Sara Haze, Shane McAnally, Trevor Rosen
11. “Woman Down” | Shane McAnally, Jimmy Robbins, Laura Veltz
12. “You Kissed Me First” | Josh Kear, Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson
13. “Greener Grass” | Hillary Lindsey, Jonny Price, Ben West