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Turning Pain into Art: 29: Written in Stone

Image courtesy of Spotify

By Ryn Cole

Country artist Carly Pearce released her third studio album, 29: Written in Stone, on September 17, 2021. While her past albums include a mixture of happy hits, empowering songs, and breakup ballads, her most recent release takes a far different route than the others. 

Pearce and fellow country artist Michael Ray were married on October 6, 2019. The two remained married for an eight-month period before Pearce filed for divorce. Pearce was 29 at the time of both her marriage and her divorce and aptly named the album after this tumultuous year. Whether she is singing about the mistakes her ex made or her personal sadness, the majority of the songs on this album are written about the different facets of Pearce’s divorce, giving listeners a deeper look into the effects of her love life. 

The song “29” is the most personal on the album. Here, Pearcesings about her feelings regarding herself after the divorce and how it affected her self-image, rather than focusing on Ray and the divorce itself.  She begins the song with the lyrics, “Twenty-nine/ That’s when you’re supposed to find yourself.”

Pearce talks about the expectations everyone, including herself, seem to have for this specific year of her life and the experience of navigating marriage and family. It makes sense for her album to be named after this song because it summarizes what the rest of the album explores further. 

The thirteenth song entitled “Day One” is an honest account of coping through a tough breakup. She describes how she will one day be healed from her heartbreak if she can “just get through day one.” Although many of her songs are relatable, this one is especially fitting for everyone who has been through a breakup in which they struggle to feel normal again. 

There are a few songs that do not discuss her divorce, and one stands out above the rest; “Show Me Around” which is dedicated to her late producer busbee. He passed away on September 19, 2019, and it seems that this song is not only her tribute to him but also a way for her to work through his death. The song describes how she will see him again one day in Heaven and portrays a positive way of viewing death. 29: Written in Stone is a mature and honest collection of songs about the loss of love, getting through tough times, and the impact divorce has on a young woman. Pearce strips down and stands in front of her audience with a full-hearted account of her experiences and feelings during her twenty-ninth year.

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