The divorce rate seems to be on the rise in Nashville, and while we don’t wish anyone this life-changing, it turns out to be good for country music. This month alone has brought two top concept albums on personally and legally ripped apart unions – first, Kacey Musgraves’ “Star-Crossed”, who took the opportunity to walk away a bit further from mainstream country music, and now Carly Pearce’s “29: Written in Stone”, which is much closer to it as her favorite medium for grief. She picks up the tracks – of her life, and also old Conway records and Loretta.
Pearce has the brightest smile in country music (well, there’s Luke Bryan, so let’s call him brightest for a woman), but you won’t see him on the cover of the new album. She has the hint of a knowing smile from Mona Lisa, but there’s not much of a mystery about what that masks, at the moment you’re even a verse and chorus in the opening track, “Diamondback.” : fangs. Although the title of the song is a play on words (“It’s in a pawnshop next to the laundromat / You’re not gonna get that diamond”), the singer just looks a little poisonous as she tells her ex to feel free to “kiss a one-night stand with a butterfly on your back / Take the bed you used to lie in / Keep the friends I’ve never loved”.
Her mood will mellow and get sadder as the album progresses… and then get angry again. But unlike Musgraves, who spends part of her Divorce album wondering if she was right to call it separates, Pearce sees herself first and last as a tortured woman, and is in the mood for both tea and whiskey. So fasten your seat belts; it’s gonna be a bumpy postnup.
How (naturally) is Pearce concerned about removing this separation from her system? Enough that she originally committed to writing about it just for the duration of a seven-song EP, with the shorter track of “29,” released in February – and currently in the running for the album of the year at the upcoming CMA Awards – then decided she wasn’t finished and added eight more variations on the same theme to come up with this full 15-track album. An obsessed woman isn’t necessarily always a truly inspired woman, of course, but if “29: Written in Stone” could be narrowed down, it was only a lead or two, and even then it might be difficult. to figure out which ones to lose. While the subject doesn’t waver much, she’s worked with some of Nashville’s top songwriters and producers to come up with songs in an ever-striking variety of styles, each with their own distinct lyrical hook that hits that sweet spot where l ‘intelligence and meaning every word dangerous to god Live in harmony.
Having established that the album “29” goes through many different stylistic variations over the course of its 15 tracks, what’s interesting is that all 15 pretty much fall under the umbrella of traditional country – which, from nowadays means the country of the 80s and 90s, with reminders to what goes even further before that. It’s not a complete shock to Pearce, who never really pushed the envelope in hick-hop, but it also doesn’t count as expected, since his two previous albums were made with the late Busbee, a producer better known for the pop nuances of his work with Maren Morris than for the hack. Now that she’s been forced by fate to move on with producers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne – guys who can rock back and forth, musically speaking – she sets out down the old road less traveled, with a panoply of mandolins, dobros and steel from both tower and pedal variants. It is to their credit that the move towards traditionalism seems more subtle than a sudden change, so that shouldn’t doom it on the radio, although it is recognized and warmly welcomed by people who don’t. . like they used to tread.
Maybe that simple hint of a smile on the album cover represents Pearce knowing that, as serious as she considers her divorce, she knows that country conventions dictate trying to have at least a little fun with it. the injury. It comes here in some of the tempos, which can sometimes gallop despite the themes creeping across the floor, and sometimes it comes in the pun. Writing with such talented music lovers as McAnally, Osborne, Brandy Clark, Natalie Hemby, Nicolle Galyon, Kelsea Ballerini and her duo partner Ashley McBryde, Pearce is definitely in the company of people whose institutional memory dates back to an earlier era than the present day. current, when she plays a trick with a lyrical hook was more valued. And so, in addition to the “Diamondback” opening, we get titular pain puns in “Liability” – extended to delve deep into her ex’s “lying ability” – and “Easygoing,” in which the singer explains that “now that it’s all out in the open, you’ve made it so easy going.
But it’s not just about making things ironic. In her duet with McBryde, “Never Wanted to Be That Girl” (which has just been released as a new radio single), the two divas complain about having been another woman before finally concluding the pretty ballad with little stuff. pretty and not very spiritual. lines to exit: “I feel stupid, I feel cheap / I feel used, I feel weak.” The other duo on the album, “Dear Miss Loretta”, sung with one of Pearce’s main influences, Patty Loveless, even goes a little meta to talk about the kind of classic country breakup songs that seem like sheer entertainment. until one day their truth suddenly registers: “Your songs were all fun,” they say sing, “until I experienced them myself.” It takes a few dedicated honky-tonk girls to summon Loretta Lynn for an entire song and not have the answer get that name out of your mouth.
Highlights abound among the album’s musical side journeys, from the cheerful country R&B of “Liability” to the slender blues of “Easy Going” to the stringed assembly that makes “What He Didn’t Do” a mainly acoustic star. . (“I’m going to take the high road even though we both know I could kick him out of this town,” Pearce sings in this issue, in lyrics that mean she’s holding back from the husband she had for only eight months, fellow singer-songwriter Michael Ray, though it doesn’t seem like limiting the franchise is exactly his thing right now.)
The song that stands out the most here as a country classic in the making, however, is “Your Drinkin ‘, My Problem,” which could be adopted as an eternal theme song for Al-Anon. Pearce can’t help but make an almost fun song – under different circumstances you could almost call it a bar vibe – with lyrics as understated and depressed as “It’s never my tab, but I always pay” and “You’re hitting that bottle while I’m rocking. It’s easily one of the best songs ever written about the suffering of Smirnoff used.
Although it is a little less in the pocket in this vain classic, another strong point just as strong is “Messy”. It could almost be a sister song to Musgraves’ “Hookup Culture”, where this singer wrote about the rushed return to the dating scene after a split. Pearce encounters a similar realization here: “Little black dress in the bathroom / Since last Friday night ‘I thought I was ready, it was too early / God I wasn’t right.” It captures this moment in the wake of a devastating breakup when you realize that, as much time as you might have spent focusing on your ex’s bad decisions, the thirst for rebound has left you able to take some ‘between them yourself.
Pearce only once deviates from the rigor of a concept album with “Show Me Around,” a song inspired by Busbee’s tragic untimely death that imagines a deceased loved one preparing to be a heavenly guide for those that will follow. It’s a good spiritual, even if its sweetness in the face of death sounds sentimental after the harshness of the 14 songs that deal with the other D-word. There’s also a note of hope, as you might expect, in the finale, “I mean it,” about planning for the next set of wishes, though it does look like she’s doing it. was talking about the last round. Pearce is so fierce at maintaining a wit at a track that, if she remarries, you’d be inclined to predict that the album she’ll make next will be 100% love songs. For now, anyway, it’s our luck that she becomes a miss again, and that her musical talent for getting everything out of her chest is up to her level of grievance. If you’re in the mood for sad country music, the happy days are here.