Written by Shane McAnally, Carly Pearce, and Josh Osborne
In the year of the cover song, surprise release and meow-remix – yes, I’m serious with that last one – it both is and isn’t surprising to hear Carly Pearce move on from her latest album after only seven months since its release. Surprising in that, with “I Hope You’re Happy Now” becoming her fastest-rising hit yet, it feels odd not to capitalize on that momentum with another single, especially to further the late busbee’s legacy; unsurprising, though, in that, with more time now to record new music, it makes sense when artists have the itch to release something new.
For Pearce, her inspiration for her next single was to answer the question, “what would Patty Loveless do?” A bold, but very welcome starting point, and “Next Girl” is a solid answer to that question.
Of course, if Pearce is looking to channel ‘90s country with her new music, it would help to favor a stronger melody over an improper mix balance, where the drums feel overmixed and the banjo, while prominent to support the melody, sound a bit too low. If anything, I greatly prefer the more grounded pop-country fusion of “I Hope You’re Happy Now” to this.
But there’s heart to Pearce’s twangier performance, and while the writing has already drawn comparisons to Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl,” I’m noticing more parallels to Gary Allan’s recent “Waste Of A Whiskey Drink.” In both situations, we have lead characters playing the role of the ex warning the next person in line to stay away from their former significant other, if only to warn them of what they’ll have to endure. A bit petty in either case, truthfully, but there’s more of an attempt here to better shade in the details and clearly frame the partner as in the wrong, even if still feels a bit too basic to call it great or memorable. The weak hook certainly doesn’t help.
But it mostly works well enough for what it is, resulting in a solid song that signals an intriguing artistic pivot for Pearce.
I’m actually quite liking this, so far! I agree with you that the drums and percussion are a bit too loud, while the banjo and dobro should’ve been more front and center. Otherwise, this has just enough of a 90’s country influence to satisfy me, for now. I actually really like the melody, especially in the choruses. If more contemporary country sounded like this today, I definitely wouldn’t complain.
I became quite interested in Carly Pearce when I first heard “Every Little Thing.” When I heard her first album though, I found it to be a mixed bag at best, with an equal amount of hits and misses. I never got around to hearing the second album yet, but I’ve heard it’s much more pop leaning than the first. I did like “I Hope You’re Happy Now,” though. Personally, I think a more traditional leaning style suits her better, and this song is a step in the right direction, so far, imo. Hopefully, she’ll continue to go in a more traditional direction with this new album.
I do like the choral melody. I guess I meant to say it just sort of gets shoved aside? I don’t know; now I’m wondering if I could have worded that better!
I agree on Pearce as a whole. Her artistic instincts have been solid, but rarely remarkable. Agree on her overall direction, though ‘Greener Grass’ off her latest is probably one of my favorites of the year so far. At any rate, if she’s looking to Patty Loveless and other ’90s country women, she can’t possibly go wrong!