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A singer/songwriter with a gift for honest, emotional material, Carly Pearce was already a seasoned performer when she made her commercial breakthrough at the age of 26. On her debut album, 2017's Every Little Thing, which included the platinum-selling single of the same name, Pearce injected a down-to-earth sound into the polished production, and the result appealed to pop-country fans as well as more traditionally minded listeners. She had two Top Ten country albums under her belt by the time she released the redemptive and inward-looking 29: Written in Stone in 2021. Its sound was inspired by the '90s country of artists like Patty Loveless and Lee Ann Womack.
Pearce was born in Taylor Mill, Kentucky, on April 24, 1990. She began playing music at a young age and was touring as part of a bluegrass band at the age of 11. When she was 16, she quit school and moved to Tennessee, where she became a regular performer at the Dollywood theme park, doing six shows a day, five days a week. Pearce also appeared on a handful of bluegrass collections released by budget labels, including a set of acoustic Christmas numbers. At 19, she was ready to focus on performing her own material and she relocated to Nashville, where she began earning a reputation as a songwriter. In 2012, Pearce landed artist development and publishing deals with Sony; though it ultimately didn't work out, the experience left her more focused than ever on her career, even as she had to do odd jobs to make ends meet.
Pearce's luck began to turn in 2016. After she recorded the duet "Wasn't That Drunk" with Josh Abbott, the independent single became a success, rising to number 36 on the Country Airplay chart. As "Wasn't That Drunk" was making an impression on the radio, Pearce was introduced to a producer named Busbee, and they began working out material together. One of their tunes, "Every Little Thing," found support on satellite radio in late 2016, and the track clicked with listeners. The powerful Nashville label Big Machine liked "Every Little Thing," and was impressed with Pearce's vocal talents and backlog of songs. They signed her to a deal and reissued "Every Little Thing" in early 2017.
That October, she released her Busbee-produced debut album, also titled Every Little Thing, which hit number four on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. A stand-alone single, "Closer to You," arrived in 2018, followed in October 2019 by "I Hope You're Happy Now," a duet with Lee Brice that became a Top Five country hit. Pearce's second album, Carly Pearce, was the last record Busbee worked on before his death in late 2019. It was released by Big Machine in February 2020, landing at number six on the Top Country Albums chart.
Using a '90s country instrument palette for sonic inspiration, Pearce teamed up with producers Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne, and Jimmy Robbins for the divorce-inspired 29 EP. It arrived on Big Machine in February 2021 accompanied by its lead single, "Next Girl." Later that September, Pearce unveiled the full-length 29: Written in Stone, which featured all seven cuts from the 29 EP, along with eight new songs, including the single "Dear Miss Loretta." ~ Mark Deming