Carly Pearce Talks Making Her ‘Healing’ Fourth Album ‘hummingbird’: Hear Title Track Now

Carly Pearce thought she knew what the title track of her fourth full-length album would be. Then she wrote “hummingbird.”

“When I wrote ‘Country Music Made Me Do It,’ I was like, ‘This is the title of the album,’” she says of the playful, cheeky song she released last summer. “’hummingbird’ was one of the last songs I wrote for the record and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what it was meant to be the whole time.’”

The delicate, fiddle-laced title track about resilience closes hummingbird, coming June 14. “It’s kind of my little bluegrass moment,” she says, adding she got a tattoo of a hummingbird once she completed the project. “It’s lyrically way more abstract than what you would usually hear on a contemporary country record. It’s kind of an artistic way of saying that you’re not going to settle.”



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After the heaviness of 2021’s EP 29 and its full-length companion 29: Written in Stone, Pearce says writing the songs for hummingbird felt “light and airy and freeing and like a big exhale.” 

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Both 29 and 29: Written in Stone received commercial and critical acclaim, including Pearce’s duet with Ashley McBryde, “Never Wanted to Be That Girl,” which won a Grammy in 2023 for best country duo/ group performance. The sets fearlessly mined Pearce’s heartache following her divorce from Michael Ray and were filled with confessional reflections. The albums “really taught me just how vulnerable I could be and how that could transcend,” she says. “Even though I thought I was only writing my story, it seems like I’ve been writing a lot of other people’s stories.”

Still, Pearce hit a bit of a stumbling block when it came time to start the new album. “I was so intimidated of how to follow 29 because I never wrote that thinking it would have any kind of success,” she says. “But what it did is it taught me so much about how strong I am. And so, to see this album be finished and for it to speak to so much that has happened to me, I’m really proud of myself, and hummingbird will forever remind me that I can really do anything.”

While love often still goes sideways in the songs on hummingbird, on many of them, including “Truck on Fire,” “Still Blue” and “Rock Paper Scissors,” Pearce is coming from a place of control and often humor. “I think there comes a lot of strength and almost a playfulness to laugh at what you’ve been through and not make a joke of it, but make light of it because it’s part of your story,” she says. 

With the exception of the moving Grammy-nominated duet and current single “We Don’t Fight Anymore,” featuring Chris Stapleton, the first half of the 14-track album is more lighthearted than the second half by design. “It was important to me that the first songs that people heard from me were that I’m doing good,” she says “It’s a two-part album of healing because with the healing comes a great freedom and joy. Even the heavier side that can feel harder in moments, there’s still a sense of strength that 29 didn’t have because, quite frankly, I didn’t have the strength during 29.”

Carly Pearce, 'hummingbird'

Carly Pearce, ‘hummingbird’

Courtesy of Big Machine Records

Pearce, who co-wrote 13 of the 14 tracks, produced the album with 29 and Written in Stone producers Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne. “They know me on such a personal level now that I think they were the only people I could make this next record with,” she says. “They just had such a sense of where I was and where I wanted to go and sonically what I was wanting to do.”

That included “doubling down” on the traditional country instrumentation the Kentucky native featured on those two sets that was noticeably absent from her first two albums helmed by the late pop producer busbee. Songs like the twangy “Fault Line” recall her musical hero Loretta Lynn and the music she listened to growing up.

“My grandparents, when they figured out I wanted to be a country artist at 5, bought me all of these deluxe [compilations] from the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and I studied those. While ‘90s country is such a big part of me, those classic sounds of Loretta and Tammy [Wynette] and George [Jones], I was just a fan of all of it.” 

The gauzy, monochromatic, stripped-down visualizer for “hummingbird,” which premieres above, sets the tone for the images for the project. “There’s less makeup, less of the really fixed hair. There’s prisms in the lens of the camera,” Pearce says. “All of it has been super intentional and super important to me to make the visual feel different than anything I’ve ever done.”

Pearce drew inspiration from one of her fellow country artists. “Especially in country music, it can get very, very polished and predictable in imaging. I’ve been really inspired by people like Kacey Musgraves, who has stayed competitive, but always has something different in the way that she looks in her photos. And I wanted to find how I could challenge myself from a visual standpoint to just look a little different.”

Pearce will debut the title track at Big Machine Label Group’s luncheon at Country Radio Seminar on Friday (March 1). “That’s certainly not a song that you would think I would choose to sing at a radio luncheon, but I’m singing it because this is the kind of music that I make. This is the kind of message that I want to send,” she says. “It’s a really important record for me and I think just being able to sing something like this has also shown me that country radio has accepted me for me. And I feel really lucky that that is where I’m at in my career four records in.”