Song Review: Carly Pearce, “Every Little Thing”

Let Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing” be a lesson to you all: If you have a dream, take every opportunity to showcase your talent, because you never know which one will finally put you on the map.

Pearce is a Kentucky native who struggled to find success despite a 2012 publishing deal with Sony (it was short-lived) and “an EP available  on iTunes” in 2015 (it’s not there anymore). Instead, the performance credited with Pearce’s breakthrough was her turn as a featured artist on the Josh Abbott Band’s “Wasn’t That Drunk.” The cameo generated some much-needed buzz and attention, and she was able to parlay it into a gig with the Big Machine label group, which recently released her “official” debut single “Every Little Thing.”

The production here is organic and restrained, with the melody carried by the unexpected combination of a piano and a dobro (and some cello-like strings hiding in the backgrounds) and a drum set keeping time without any hint of embellishment. The mix creates a somber and serious atmosphere by relying on darker tones from the instruments, but it occasionally mixes some brighter notes in to reflect both the good and bad memories mentioned in the song. The tempo is kept at a molasses-running-uphill pace, which adds an extra layer of gravity and allows the listener to focus on individual lyrics and notes (although it makes the song feel a bit empty when there aren’t any lyrics to fill the space).

The risk of dialing back the production to this extent is that it puts extra pressure on the vocals to deliver, but thankfully Pearce is more than up to the task. Her voice bears a passing resemblance to Faith Hill, but Pearce seems a bit comfortable in her lower range than Hill does on her recent track “Speak With A Girl,” while also doing a nice job showing off her higher range on the verses. Most importantly, Pearce’s vocal charisma allows her to master the role of the heartbroken narrator in the song, and makes the listener feel her pain with every note.

If the song has a weak point, it resides in the lyrics themselves. Crying over a lost love is probably the most-covered topic in the history of country music, so any song tackling this topic needs to incorporate vivid imagery and raw emotion to make it stand out from the pack. Unfortunately, “Every Little Thing” mostly focuses on the feelings using vague terms (“the high, the hurt, the shine, the sting”), and the specific images it does reference are stale and overdone (wine-flavored kisses, pillow smells, heartbeats, etc.). The lyrics simply do not do enough to move the listener, leaving Pearce to do the emotional heavy-lifting by herself (which, to her credit, she actually does quite well).

Overall, “Every Little Thing” is a solid song that speaks to Carly Pearce’s potential in mainstream country music. While the writing is a little lackluster and pales in comparison to Maren Morris’s recent single “I Could Use A Love Song,” Pearce’s impressive individual performance makes me wonder just how good she could be with some stronger material backing her. She traveled a long road to get to this point, but I’d say it was definitely worth the wait.

Rating: 6/10. It’s definitely worth a listen or three.