Song Review – Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing”
You may have never heard of Carly Pearce or her debut single “Every Little Thing,” but you soon will. As the latest benefactor of iHeartMedia’s “On The Verge” radio program that puts a shot of adrenaline behind the single from an emerging star, it’s virtually guaranteed to rocket to the top of the charts, even as iHeartMedia itself teeters on the bring of bankruptcy. With the dreadful prospectus for any female on radio these days, any unfair advantage should be unflinchingly seized upon and used without the specter of guilt.
Signed to Big Machine Records, Carly Pearce has the authenticity an act like Big Machine’s Americana-flavored Midland craves. Born in Taylor Mill, Kentucky in the northern tip of the state, Pearce was playing bluegrass at 11, and dropped out of school at 16 to move to Dolly Parton’s Pigeon Forge. There she landed a job playing bluegrass music six times a day, five days a week, and performed on a few bluegrass compilations albums as well. Carly Pearce’s musical acumen was formed deep in the roots of country music.
But of course when she moved to Nashville some eight years ago, she got gobbled up by the machine, signing the always circumspect “development deal” with Sony Music Nashville to ultimately be spit back out on the street. At times she’s been put in opening slots for Kelsea Ballerini and Hunter Hayes—not exactly in the same vein as Pigeon Forge bluegrass. But she soldiered through, showed up as a duet partner on Josh Abbott Band’s “Wasn’t That Drunk,” signed the deal with Big Machine, and after “Every Little Thing” became a favored track on SiriusXM, here she is as the latest to attempt to solve the female dilemma on country radio.
You can picture Carly Pearce in the Alison Krauss mold if you desire. She’s played some 30 times at the Grand Ole Opry over the last few years. And though her foundation is bluegrass, we all know what the commercial prospects of that discipline are. So at 27-years-old she’s emerging with a more singer-songwriter/R&B style, with a sedated and acoustic arrangement behind a breakup song produced by the sniveling, pop-turned-country producer “busbee,” who also absconds spuriously with a songwriting credit.
“Every Little Thing” isn’t just acoustic and rootsy in the window dressing, it features a by God dobro solo, and relies very much on the “less is more” approach throughout. The chorus doesn’t take that stupid, predictable rising action of most country pop compositions, yet Pearce’s ear for melody allows the song to peak on a heart-cracking note that drives the emotional pull of the song both accessibly, and intelligently. This is far afield from bluegrass, but it’s fair to call it a quality song in writing and arrangement, with wet signals and a moody vibe, even if the song has a fairly saccharine, radio-friendly disposition.
The problem with “Every Little Thing” is the problem with a lot of mainstream radio singles going into the summer of 2017, which is they’re just these slow, stripped, and sort of depressing offerings that make you wonder what the frat boys are going to listen to while they’re vomiting into the floorboards of their full size trucks? From the Maren Morris single “I Could Use A Love Song,” to Chris Stapleton’s acoustic only “Either Way,” country radio is all of a sudden becoming a bit sleepy. At least Stapleton’s track has a little umph in the performance. “Every Little Thing” feels a little too Adult Contemporary to get your pulse elevated above resting pace.
Carly Pearce is certainly a promising name. Perhaps she could be an Alison Krauss-style star for the future, releasing a few #1’s to radio to pay the mortgage and pull attention to some badass bluegrass projects with superpickers that won’t sell 50K. Or she could get sucked up into the machine and become just another overproduced pop country star. “Every Little Thing” seems to leave open the possibility for both.
May 18, 2017 @ 9:00 am
Borchetta will probably end up telling her to cover “Tuxedo” because that song had a lot of unrealized potential.
May 18, 2017 @ 9:50 am
I heard this song performed in Nashville at the Liz Rose and friends set during Tin Pan Festival in March, and it was heartbreakingly AWESOME. Can’t wait to see what it does for Carly’s career, she more than deserves the spotlight!
May 18, 2017 @ 12:46 pm
I actually have to respectfully disagree with this review. I heard this song a while back and fell in love with it instantly. I see nothing wrong with it and think it’s a 10/10 hit that deserves to climb the charts. It’s rare that a sad song charts very high. And with summer hitting, it’s a nice change of pace to hear a slow song instead of Body Like a Backroad and all the inevitable ripoffs that will plague the radio in the upcoming months. I hope she has a long and prosperous career.
May 18, 2017 @ 2:36 pm
I don’t understand how the mild criticism in the review results in a 6.5 score, nor do I agree with the criticism. And I’m not sure why mainstream/radio prospects should have any bearing, especially as limpid a criticism as being too “sleepy.” It’s a beautiful song, beautifully sung, with country instrumentation beautifully strung. This is easily an 8/10 or 9/10.
May 18, 2017 @ 3:30 pm
For the record, the radio prospects for the song did not factor into the grade. They were offered for context, not criticism of the song specifically, though I do think it’s a bit sleepy.
I like the song.
May 18, 2017 @ 7:40 pm
Bad choice to release songs like this during warm seasons. Like you said, the fake country frat boys arent gonna want to listen to this.
May 19, 2017 @ 11:13 am
This song was released last year and came to spotify in January. It’s just gaining traction now. Just like how Hurricane by Luke Combs is about to go #1 even though it’s been his “current” single since 2015.
May 18, 2017 @ 10:41 pm
I’ll take this song , this singer and performance, over 90% of what ‘ country ‘ radio is offering right now .
Saying that , I don’t think its a great song…I think it’s barely a ‘ good ‘ song . But its a song ABOUT something ..it has a point ..it has some good angst appropriately understated vocally and features real players playing real instruments that aren’t plugged into an amp on 11 . I don’t mind that it’s a ballad ….a song saying what his one says HAS to be a ballad to connect and resonate . Mostly I like that it isn’t over-sung for radio . I think it could have really achieved liftoff with a steel guitar …but at least we get dobro , which reflects her bluegrass roots more authentically , I suppose . And the solo cello is another beautifully appropriate and powerful touch ….