EP Review: 29, Carly Pearce

Carly Pearce tackles heartbreak from a different lens on her new EP, 29 // Photo Credit: Carly Pearce Connect via Instagram

When country singer, Carly Pearce released her debut single, “Every Little Thing” in 2017, she established herself as an artist who writes about heartbreak in an honest, relatable way.

Now, with her latest project, 29, Pearce is doing so again. On her seven song EP released Friday via Big Machine Records, Pearce tackles heartbreak from a new lens and the maturity only time can provide.

Along with the rest of the world, things didn’t turn out for Pearce–now 30–exactly as planned in 2020. Her marriage to fellow country singer, Michael Ray ended in divorce after just eight months and she mourned the loss of her long-time producer, friend, and career advocate, busbee.

But rather than sit and sulk in her pain, Pearce did the one thing she knows how to do: write music.

Her track, “29,” of which the EP’s name is derived, serves as the foundation for the entire work. The song details all the milestones that are supposed to happen by the age of 29–more independence, a mortgage, a picket fence–and how that wasn’t the case for Pearce. “But for me, twenty-nine/Is the year that I got married and divorced/I held on for dear life but I still fell off the horse,” she sings. The raw emotion in Pearce’s voice is palpable, and her brutal admission later in the track that “[she] barely made her way through it” sets the emotional bar for the rest of the record.

Tracks, “Messy” and “Should’ve Known Better” fare similarly. In the former, Pearce shares some less-than-ideal coping mechanisms for her heartbreak, including cigarettes, Cabernet, and “a couple of texts [she] wish[es][she] hadn’t sent,” while in the latter, she expresses regret at letting her heart get broken after having seen the signs but still getting caught up in the “fantasy.”

Pearce tackles her public divorce and the grief following the loss of her long-time music producer, busbee on 29 // Photo Credit: Carly Pearce via Instagram

On the opposite side of the emotional coin, Pearce brings some sass to the EP’s more upbeat tracks, “Next Girl” and “Liability.” “Next Girl,” her current single at country radio, is a cautionary tale told from the perspective of the older and wiser woman looking out for a male charmer’s next pretty, young target. “Liability,” on the other hand, directly calls an ex out on their BS; the duality of “liability” and “lie ability” is clever, and Pearce is cheeky in her delivery.

The track where Pearce shines brightest, however, is “Show Me Around,” the touching tribute she offers to busbee in which she looks to the future and reuniting with her dear friend someday again in Heaven. (A Christian, Pearce is very open about her faith and how she has used her faith to help guide her career). In discussing the track, Pearce said, “there is no way to ease the pain of losing someone you love” and that she hopes the song “brings comfort to [busbee‘s] wife Jess and their three little girls.”

Pearce closes out 29 with “Day One,” a sad but optimistic track that if she can make it through the first day of her heartbreak, then she can keep moving forward, heal, and be okay.

Pearce’s vulnerability on 29 pays off; the collection of songs feels like an intimate reintroduction to the singer.

As of her Friday release, Pearce was sitting at the number-one spot across all genres with 29. She will be playing songs from her new EP and answering fan questions on Wednesday, February 24 at 6:01pm CT as part of a YouTube live stream event.

Fans can listen to 29 on Apple Music or Spotify.

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