Carly Pearce has a powerful 15-track album coming out, 29: Written in Stone on September 17. The newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, who will be inducted on Tuesday, August 3, co-wrote all 15 songs, teaming up with co-writers like Kelsea Ballerini, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Natalie Hemby and more to share deeply personal songs. 29: Written in Stone is a continuation of Pearce’s 29 EP, released earlier this year, adding eight more songs to the original project.
29: Written in Stone marks Pearce’s first full-length record without her producer, Busbee, who passed away in 2019 from brain cancer. It was Busbee who championed Pearce from the beginning, and Busbee’s influence and legacy that gave Pearce the courage to move forward in his absence.
“I didn’t really know what music looked like without him,” Pearce tells Everything Nash. “But what I have found through this project is he was meant to be there for a season to give me the confidence to step into actually the music that I wanted to make. Busbee was a pop producer from the Bay area. I took him as country as he was ever going to go, I think, with ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now,’ but I really feel like I found who I truly was always meant to be.”
With all of the tracks on 29: Written in Stone, Pearce solidifies who she is, as a singer, a songwriter and a person.
“I want to be a country artist,” Pearce maintains. “I don’t want to collaborate outside the genre. I don’t want to do anything else. I just want to be a country artist. And I think that this music for the first time really shows that. If you look at the credits of writers on this, it’s pretty small, and you see a lot of the same names coming up because these people just really tapped into what I was doing. Obviously I went through a lot of brutal things in the process of making this album. I didn’t really want to air all of my information out to a bunch of people. So I kind of kept it with just my friends and the people that I felt comfortable with.”
29: Written in Stone includes a collaboration with Ashley McBryde, on “Never Wanted To Be That Girl,” a song Pearce and McBryde wrote together with Shane McAnally.
“‘Never Wanted To Be That Girl’ was exactly how ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’ happened for me,” Pearce recounts. “I played a show with Luke Combs and I wanted to write with Luke, so I asked him. I played a show with Ashley. I wanted to write a song with her, so I called her and asked her … I think musically, if you listened to us sing, we’re very different, but we sing the same. We come from the same part of country music. She’s a little edgier than me, but we know our stuff. I just really am a fan, and I think that she felt the same way about me.”
A bit reminiscent of the Reba McEntire and Linda Davis duet, “Does He Love You,” Pearce and McBryde took care with the storyline in “Never Wanted To Be That Girl.”
“I think that what’s so cool about this song is it is two women that never meet in the song,” Pearce reveals. “We never meet, but we’re experiencing something so similar. “It almost wrote itself in the room, of her perspective, to my perspective. It’s something that I think a lot of women go through and deal with.”
Patty Loveless also joins Pearce, on her pure country, “Dear Miss Loretta,” which honors Loretta Lynn. Surprisingly, Pearce had originally asked Loveless to join her on another song, “Easy Going,” and it was Loveless who suggested “Dear Miss Loretta” instead.
“I had my manager reach out to her manager, two weeks after I had debuted ‘Dear Miss Loretta’ on the Grand Ole Opry, on the livestream. And Patty sent back to her producer, ‘I don’t necessarily think that this is the right song for me, for the harmony on ‘Easy Going,’ Pearce shares, adding that Sonya Isaacs ultimately sang the harmonies on “Easy Going” instead. “But she was like, ‘I saw Carly sing on the Opry the other night with this song called ‘Dear Miss Loretta.’ Can I sing on that?’ All of those things coming into play: she was watching the Opry. She actually asked if she could sing on that song. She loves Loretta, like I do. They’re actually family members, distant family members. They were all from Kentucky. I never saw that as a duet. But then it was like, ‘Oh, this is exactly what this is supposed to be.'”
Pearce’s debut album, Every Little Thing, was released in 2017. Four years, another album and one EP later, and Pearce feels settled with this new set of tunes, in a way that she never has before.
“I’m just really proud of this music,” Pearce boasts. “It is the first time I’ve written everything. And as an album, I feel like it is a true representation of who I always wanted to be.”
See a track list for 29: Written in Stone below. Pre-orders are available now here.
29: Written in Stone Track List:
1. “Diamondback” | Carly Pearce, Kelsea Ballerini, Tofer Brown, Shane McAnally
2. “What He Didn’t Do” | Carly Pearce, Ashley Gorley, Emily Shackelton
3. “Easy Going” | Carly Pearce, Natalie Hemby, Josh Osborne
4. “Dear Miss Loretta” (featuring Patty Loveless) | Carly Pearce, Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally
5. “Next Girl” | Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
6. “Should’ve Known Better” | Carly Pearce, Jordan Reynolds, Emily Shackelton
7. “29” | Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
8. “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” (featuring Ashley McBryde) | Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Ashley McBryde
9. “Your Drinkin’, My Problem” | Carly Pearce, Nicolle Galyon, Sasha Sloan, Ben West
10. “Liability” | Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
11. “Messy” | Carly Pearce, Sarah Buxton, Jimmy Robbins
12. “Show Me Around” | Carly Pearce, Emily Shackelton, Ben West
13. “Day One” | Carly Pearce, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, Matthew Ramsey
14. “All The Whiskey In The World” | Carly Pearce, Jordan Terry Minton, Jordan Reynolds, Emily Shackelton
15. “Mean It This Time” | Carly Pearce, Jordan Terry Minton, Jordan Reynolds, Emily Shackelton