Carly Pearce is confident in what she wants out of her career. With the release of a brand new single, "Closer to You," she's moving towards a more amplified version of herself as an artist.

"I think it’s a lot easier to take a little bit more of creative freedom when you know your foundation. I know who I am, I know the elements of me that fans love, I know what makes me me," Pearce tells The Boot, sitting in her home in Brentwood, Tenn. "Now it’s like I can almost color a little bit more out of the lines."

Pearce released her first album, Every Little Thing, in 2017. She just celebrated her 50th performance on the Opry stage, where she made her debut in 2015. Currently on a break from a tour with Luke Bryan, the singer is focusing on what's next, so "Closer to You" is a logical step in that direction. Written by Hillary Lindsay and hand-picked by Pearce, it's a window into what's coming on her next record.

"It is a little bit faster than I think a lot of new artists put out their next album, but just with the nature of cycle for singles with country radio, it felt like I had to make a decision to either make a third single or to move on," Pearce says. "For me, I’ve been living with these songs night after night for the last year and a half. I look at that girl on the Every Little Thing cover and I’m like, 'Oh my gosh, if she only knew what was coming.' I don’t want to live with her for another year."

These life changes from time spent on the road and a quick breakout into the genre are evident in the sound and message of the song. Pearce's vocals remain the standout like in previous singles, but it's tinged with R&B influence just as much as roots music.

"I grew up singing in a bluegrass band. Sonya Isaacs (of the Isaacs), Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Doyle Lawson, Rhonda Vincent, all of those artists were huge for the kind of artist and the kind of singer that I am. I think you have to be able to really sing when you’re a bluegrass artist, and I think that’s a lot of the reason that I’ve been able to," Pearce says. "I wanted it to be about my voice, because I grew up listening to people like Alison Krauss who had that perfect marriage of her with those acoustic instruments, with the dobro. I think so much of what has made country music and bluegrass music so authentic has come out of Kentucky."

On top of that influence from her early days is another theme trickling into the music: That of a notable relationship with fellow artist Michael Ray. Though she never would've imagined herself dating another artist, she says "Nobody really knows what it’s like to be an artist except for an artist. That’s been a really amazing thing, to have the person that you love understand exactly what you’re going through."

While barreling ahead with new music and plans, Pearce takes a moment to reflect on the experience her fans have solidified since the release of her first album."Country music fans have given me the last year and a half of a lifetime," she says. "I think one of the most amazing things that I’ve heard is ‘your album was the soundtrack of my life.’"

With a solid foundation built, Pearce is patient, but eager to grow her career.

"I just want to continue to grow in the country music genre. That’s where my heart is, that’s where I want to be. I want more ACM nominations, I want a CMA nomination. I’d love to win another award or be an Opry member or get to do some kind of headlining tour," Pearce says. "I am in this to be one of the females that you think of when you think of the ladies that made an impact on country music."

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