The most important songs on Carly Pearce's new 29: Written in Stone album are symbolic of what songwriting means for the CMA Female Vocalist of the Year nominee. "29," "Should've Known Better" and the closer "I Want to Mean It This Time" weren't born out of events or emotions.

These three, deeply personal tracks gave birth to events and emotions. They each inspired the catharsis, not the other way around. To begin to understand Pearce is to appreciate how she processes everything through music and songwriting. It's part of why she hasn't written a thing since finishing this record, and it's part of why this new album has a steady pulse upon release day (Sept. 17). It's not a woman reading her diary but a woman writing her diary.

“A song like ’29,’ that was starting the whole entire thing of me admitting to myself what was happening," Pearce says, via Zoom. "’Should’ve Known Better’ was another one that happened and was kind of happening in real-time, of me understanding and kind of being mad at myself. ‘Mean It This Time’ kind of felt like, oh my gosh this is me confirming that I’m in a good place.”

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In total, eight new songs round out the CMA nominated EP that Pearce released in February. From a hotel room in Los Angeles, she tells Taste of Country that she didn't know there would be a second half to this story, but writing in real-time started to change her personal narrative and her plans for 2021.

Quick pause for the uninitiated: the "I Hope You're Happy Now" singer married boyfriend Michael Ray in a fever in 2019 and watched it dissolve even more quickly in early 2020. Neither have shared particulars, and Pearce says to use caution before jumping to conclusions when you hear singles like "Next Girl" and "Never Wanted To Be That Girl."

This year has been significantly better, but don't credit karma. She talked to Taste of Country at 3PM PT and said that she'd already done 50 interviews that day, bringing her total to about 500 for the year. Hard work got her here; the CMAs, ACMs and Grand Ole Opry don't come calling for the indolent.

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“When I finished the EP I was in a place of still being pretty sad and unsure of what was coming next, and I think on these eight songs you do hear a little more of what I’m hopeful for, and my future," Pearce says, pressed on if this was really her plan all along (it wasn't). "Especially on the last song on the album ... I think you’re just hearing a stronger, more assertive, healed person."

It's really only been 14 months since the start of those dark days and, Pearce recognizes, her strength may be tenuous. This chapter in her life may be closed, but the book is still being written.

"I’m sure that there will be more songs in my career that stem from this particular season of my life," she says. "I was married. I did go through a very large life change that I think will forever still have some sort of weight in the way I see the world.”

A CMA Award or two would certainly help take the sting out of some of those memories.

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