Carly Pearce will be releasing her next EP titled 29, a collection of seven songs she wrote in the last year of her twenties

By Karen Mizoguchi
February 04, 2021 02:25 PM
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Carly Pearce 29
Credit: Courtesy Big Machine Records

Carly Pearce is sharing the latest chapter in her life.

On Thursday, the country star, 30, announced she will be releasing an EP titled 29, a collection of seven songs that document the last year of her twenties following the September 2019 death of her close friend and music producer Michael James Ryan, known as Busbee, as well as her divorce from ex-husband Michael Ray, which was finalized in September 2020.

"Losing busbee was a jolt, he was my champion before anyone believed. Then came the divorce, something I never saw coming. In that grief, I started swimming to save myself from the sadness, then realized I've found something even deeper. 29 came from that recognition," Pearce says in the promo video for her EP, out Feb. 19.

"I got back to myself, to my roots, to my truth, and then the songs just kept spilling out. I was so excited that I wanted to share them with you. To introduce you to who I've always been, and who I am as an artist, a person and a woman who understands. I am Carly Pearce, this is 29."

29, which was produced by Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, comes after Pearce released her self-titled second studio album last February, featuring her chart-topping duet "I Hope You're Happy Now" with Lee Brice.

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"Losing Busbee was such a moment of upheaval. He had believed in me… carried me… brought me through everyone getting deals around me… because he knew something I couldn't see: that it would happen," Pearce said in a press release. "And then as we're doing Lee Brice's vocal on 'I Hope You're Happy Now,' he has that first seizure, and my creative world started to unravel. It's scary being out there on your own, and I think the response to the song… going platinum, being nominated for Song of the Year… That was a little bit of him telling me to stand tall, to walk forward, to know my life and my writing would carry my voice and my dream forward."

Busbee died at age 43 of brain cancer. He is survived by his wife Jessie and three children. Pearce's upcoming song "Show Me Around" is a homage to Busbee.

"The best songs come from the moment, from real creative spark – and Josh and Shane bring it out of me. I was unsure where my music would be without Busbee," Pearce said in the release. "They both know where my musical heart is, and they understand how to capture exact details for much larger truths. The more specific they write, the more people I think can see themselves in the songs."

Pearce added, "I feel lighter reflecting on the last year and pouring my soul into this music and wanted to share it in hopes that others will take from the songs what they need. With streaming and social media, we were able to record music for the sole purpose of letting my fans know where my heart is without any expectations. That's a kind of immediacy that makes making records really exciting. I can't wait to share 29."

In November, Pearce spoke with PEOPLE about moving on from her relationship with ex Ray and how 2020, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was "single-handedly the hardest year of my life."

In her first interview since her divorce, the singer said, "I believe we don't go through things that we're not supposed to go through. My love was real. I will stand by that forever," adding, "I did everything that I knew how to do. It takes two people to work on something."

And she had to work through heartbreak and the pain of not being able to perform live for her fans. "I truly thought I was gonna die. There were moments I seriously did not know if I could breathe. It was awful. It is awful. But I think that what's been awesome has been trusting myself and trusting what I have always known, which is God won't take me through something that he won't bring me out of or bring good from," Pearce said.