Carly Pearce's sophomore album is finished, and she plans to release it in 2020. "Early next year it'll be out," the singer tells The Boot and other outlets, "and I'm really proud of it."

"I've purposely held it back to hopefully be putting it out on [the strength of my new single, "I Hope You're Happy Now,"] because I feel so strongly about this song," Pearce adds. The song is important to her not only because of its raw, true-to-life story, but also because it sets the tone for a more traditional country style she hopes to pursue in her new collection.

"I really wanna be a purist. I really wanna be a country artist," Pearce explains. "I wanted to make sure that the next song I came out with was really a reflection of what's to come for me, and just really put me in that spot of, you know, 'I am here to sing country music.'"

Because of her previous release, "Closer to You," it was especially important for Pearce to solidify her traditional country intentions with her new single. While "Closer to You" describes an important time in her life -- the early stages of falling in love with her now-husband, Michael Ray -- its sonic inflections lean toward the poppier side of the country spectrum.

"I felt that "Closer to You" was a good bridge between the gap of the girl that was on the first record to the one that's coming now," Pearce relates. "I fell in love, and I wanted to celebrate that. But I think what you're hearing now [with "I Hope You're Happy Now"] is getting to the bones of what I've been working on, getting to the meat of what I've been working on ... I think this is what you should expect from me, as far as what's coming: more country."

One major change in Pearce's life since she released studio debut, she reflects, is an increase in the confidence and comfort she feels as an artist. "On my first record, I was writing from a place of searching. I think on this one, I found a lot of the things that I was searching for," Pearce points out.

"I was in Nashville for eight and a half years before I got a record deal. I wanted so desperately for people to care about my music that I was writing from a place of desperation," she goes on to say. "I hear so many songs on my [first] record that I'm like, 'Oh, gosh, that girl needs a hug.'

"So I think that now, finding love, finding my voice in country music, being accepted the way that I have been, getting so many of the things that I wanted as a little girl -- I think I just have a way stronger foundation as a woman," Pearce adds, "and a way stronger sense of who I am, that doesn't waver with a 'yes' or 'no' from someone in a suit."

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