Carly Pearce Says New Song 'Diamondback' Is Her 'Go-Off Moment'

"All of the great women that I love as writers and as singers and as performers ... had those go off moments," said the singer, who is set to release her third album 29: Written in Stone on Friday

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce. Photo: Rebecca Sapp/Getty

Carly Pearce is no longer holding back.

On her upcoming third studio album 29: Written in Stone — an extension of her EP 29 which dropped earlier this year — set for release on Friday, the singer, 31, gets real about the 29th year of her life, in which she got both married to and divorced from fellow artist Michael Ray.

"During the pandemic my team knew what was about to happen, but the world didn't, and I was sitting on this picnic table — I had quarantined with my parents in their town in Alabama — [in this] moment of extreme high and extreme low," Pearce said during an event at the Grammy Museum on Monday night. "'I Hope You're Happy Now' was somewhere in the top five or top 10, my biggest song to date, and my manager called me and had this honest conversation with me about how we needed to pivot off of my current album because there was not another single."

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce. Rebecca Sapp/Getty

At that point, Pearce's manager said he'd set up a couple of cowrites with songwriter Shane McAnally, who has written with and for the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Reba McEntire and Luke Bryan.

"The pressure of writing a single for radio is so difficult for me," said Pearce.

That, combined with the pressure of working with someone new for the first time since the death of her longtime collaborator Busbee (who died of brain cancer at the age of 43 in 2019), had Pearce "fighting back tears."

"I was like, 'I don't know if I can do this,'" she recalled.

RELATED VIDEO: Carly Pearce Felt Like She Was 'Failing in Front of the Whole World' After Michael Ray Divorce

Pearce ultimately pushed herself to hop on a Zoom call to write with McAnally and another songwriter, Josh Osborne.

"I remember my publisher, he had sent me this really long note, pretty much saying — because nobody knew I was getting a divorce — 'Tell them you don't really want to write about love,' as I'm like, a newlywed," Pearce said. "I read this message, and I was like, 'Well this isn't going to happen.' I understood it — he was protecting me."

As soon as Pearce started talking with McAnally and Osborne, she said she knew she had to let them in on the truth: "I looked at them, and I was like, 'I'm about to file for divorce.'"

"I'll never forget this as long as I live: Shane looked at me and he goes, 'I would've thought you would've told me you were pregnant with eight kids before you were going to tell me that,'" she said. "That vulnerability in that moment .... We started 29 that day."

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce. Allister Ann

"It opened my heart up in that moment," she continued. "I didn't want to put up a façade, I just wanted to be real. Because of that you get this album. This one I was like I don't care what anybody else thinks, I have to do this. It's not for anybody but myself."

The first song on the album, "Diamondback," is a true embodiment of that. On it, she sings, "You ain't gonna get this diamond back / Keep the dog and the Cadillac / But you ain't gonna get this diamond back."

"I think it was the last song I wrote for this project," Pearce said. "You try to do the right thing and you try to stay quiet, and I just stopped caring in that moment. I went, 'Hmm ... I gotta go there' — and I did."

"All of the great women that I love as writers and as singers and as performers — [like] Natalie Maines of The Chicks, had those go-off moments," she said. "I grew up loving those. Miranda [Lambert] writes from such an unapologetic place, Loretta Lynn writes from such an unapologetic place, Kacey Musgraves … So that was my go-off moment."

Carly Pearce
Carly Pearce. Timothy Norris/Getty

When asked by a fan at the event on Friday what songs get her through tough times, Pearce said, "Right now I'm bumping that Kacey Musgraves."

"I'm like, 'Same, girl!'" she joked as Musgraves similarly went through a divorce in 2020. "No, I'm kidding. I love Alison Krauss. When I lost my grandparents, I really turned to her voice. All of the ladies of the '90s — that's still what I listen to. That's still the music from the time I was little to now that makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I'm not alone"

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