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Album Review: Carly Pearce – Hummingbird

3 min read

Having spent her teens performing in small-scale venues and working at Dollywood, Carly Pearce made her solo debut in the country music scene in 2017. With her fourth album Hummingbird she treads familiar territory as she uses her country style to explore the end of a relationship.

The album opens with Country Music Made Me Do It, a fun love letter to the genre that has defined Pearce’s music. The lyrics playfully refer to classic country music tropes such as “ballgowns”, “trucks” and “small towns”, while the twangy guitar line again seems referential to the music that inspires her.

The second track Truck on Fire takes inspiration from revenge hits such as Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats with a tale of a jilted lover taking out her anger on her ex’s truck. Still Blue, continues the breakup theme, with Pearce insisting that while the sky and her jeans are still blue she isn’t. These two tracks start the theme for the album with playful, word puns defining most of the tracks.

The next track is unfortunately the low point of the album. With Heels Over Head, Pearce bitterly looks down on her ex’s new girlfriend, describing her as “easy”. She leans into the more misogynistic tones that can be associated with country music as she portrays herself as the “good girl”. Coming so early in the album the song can leave a bit of a sour taste.

It is followed though, by the album’s lead single and perhaps most memorable track We Don’t Fight Anymore (feat, Chris Stapleton). Detailing the breakdown of marriage the duet works well with the two voices battling it out. The vocals are a high point, as well as the very catchy chorus.

The next two songs again highlight Pearce’s playful lyrical style. Rock, Paper, Scissors is very fun, with the chorus “he brought the rock, we signed the paper, then I brought the scissors’ it’s one of her most innovative instances of subverting the titles of her songs. In contrast, Oklahoma is a slow sweet tune somewhat weighed down by the ridiculousness of the line “I’m in Oklahoma but I’m not ok”.

My Place is one of the most reflective songs, detailing Pearce watching a new woman move into her old house, and taking her place. The use of country-style instruments for a more ballad-style song lends it an interesting style. Things I Don’t Chase is another sadder song, with a touch of romance. It moves from the more autobiographical tone the other songs have, talking about a cowboy and a woman left behind.

The next song Woman to Woman is a complete contrast to the earlier Heels Over Head with Pearce warning an ex-lover’s new girl to stay away from him for her own good. The use of fiddle and the fun drumline makes it catchy and more folk-inspired. This style continues in Fault Line, again using the fiddle to bring a more old-fashioned country sound to another breakup song. Pretty Please is the most heartbreaking and personal-sounding song, with Pearce reminiscing on an old relationship and begging her new lover to give her the chance for romance again. The pitiable “tell me I’m pretty, please” that she repeats is one of the most affecting ways she uses her word play.

For the second to last song on the album, Trust Issues, Pearce gives us the the first love song. In it, Pearce makes use of a rustic guitar to talk about how her new relationship is moving fast but is better than ever. After the previous twelve songs, it could seem a little rushed. Hummingbird is the last song and the titular track. It’s much slower and akin to a traditional country talking about how nature continues and is unaffected by people. Despite a few odd-sounding lines, it’s gorgeously folky.

With Hummingbird, Carly Pearce gives a solid, classic country album. Pearce’s greatest strength is her clever wordplay and this can also be her greatest weakness, becoming very cheesy at times. Despite a few stand outs the songs sound a little too similar and familiar to be all that groundbreaking, but the majority are fun and will have you tapping your boots along to them.