Carly Pearce's self-titled sophomore album "isn't a completely hearts, lovey, love song album" -- but, yeah, she's in love and listeners will know it.

"The heartbeat of the record is the fact that I fell in love," Pearce tells The Boot, "and that kind of snowballed everything."

You'll hear it in the flirty "Call Me," the smitten "Heart's Going Out of Its Mind" and even the heartfelt "It Won't Always Be Like This" -- and, of course, in "Finish Your Sentences," Pearce's first duet with her husband, fellow country artist Michael Ray. Written by Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett with Jesse Frasure and Ashley Gorley, the song captures "that first initial feeling of falling in love," which is exactly where Pearce and Ray were when they recorded it.

Rhett and Big Machine Label Group head Scott Borchetta pitched "Finish Your Sentences" to Pearce. "I just felt like it was the perfect song for Michael and I to sing together," she recalls. "I know that Thomas and Kelsea probably wrote it to sing together, but it feels like somebody who's actually in a relationship [with each other] needs to sing that song."

Pearce and Ray had not yet gotten engaged nor married when they went into the studio together to record the song. She admits that while she was confident in their relationship, there was still some nervousness about putting their love on literal record.

"I mean, I felt like I knew immediately that we were meant to be, but if you're being honest, yeah, [there were some nerves]," Pearce says. "And I think our teams were a little bit like, 'Ooh, we hope that this works out if we're gonna do this,' 'cause then you're mixing business [with love]."

Pearce and Ray cite longtime country music couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill as role models for navigating their careers as married solo artists who enjoy performing together on occasion, but Hill is also an icon to Pearce as a powerhouse female artist within the genre. Pearce channeled Hill and other '90s country superstars while creating Carly Pearce, which dropped on Friday (Feb. 14).

"I want to be this generation's country staple the way they were: Faith, Trisha [Yearwood], Sara Evans -- that vein -- Patty Loveless. That's who I loved -- even a little Shania [Twain] in there," Pearce says. "Those are women that are heavily in my mind when i'm going in and cutting and writing and all those things."

As she crafted her new album, Pearce had the benefit of a radio hit and awards show recognition behind her: a level of fame she didn't have when she released her debut album, 2017's Every Little Thing. Rather than feeling pressure to live up to fans' standards, that notoriety gave Pearce a boost of confidence.

"I didn't know if people would care about my music, and now I know they care enough to listen," she says, "so i think it just gave me an extra little bit of confidence of knowing who I am in the genre and what I feel like I do best."

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