“Dear Miss Loretta”
Carly Pearce featuring Patty Loveless
Written by Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark, and Carly Pearce
While the EP format is mostly a waste of space and time, Carly Pearce provided a welcome exception to that rule earlier this year with her 29 project. And now, thankfully, she’s decided to expand upon the idea for an eventual album release in September.
Saying that Pearce has grown more interesting as an artist over the past year simply because her music is more traditional feels too much like an easy out. It’s far more than that. She’s also found her individual artistic voice within that time, which makes this fictional letter to miss Loretta Lynn all the more fitting.
Still, criticisms out of the way first: this song obviously benefits from the same background context of Pearce’s divorce that informed 29, but a song needs to stand on its own, and “Dear Miss Loretta” is missing the greater details within to hit with greater impact. A better album track than single, I guess.
It’s still great, though, mostly because Pearce acknowledges her connection is of a basic variety. She understands hurt and pain because she, too, has really lived it and has grown up too fast because of it. This is a deliberate slow-burn soaked in misery and anchored by its welcome crying fiddle, dobro, piano and reverb-soaked electric axe meant to draw out the hurt, and it’s a testament more to how well-developed and interesting Pearce’s compositions have gotten now that she’s more concerned with doing her heroes proud than chasing radio airplay.
Speaking of that: Patty Loveless, y’all. It’s so good to even just hear her voice again on something new, and it’s even better that she gets an entire verse all to herself here (fitting, too, if you’re familiar with your country music fun facts about Loveless and Lynn’s familial ties). I’m not sure who orchestrated it, but bless ‘em for it. Now we just need to keep her out long enough to record a new album – that would really save this year.