Ask Carly Pearce for one word that describes her relationship with boyfriend Michael Ray and she'll come with "easy." The couple have been dating for the better part of 2018 and even three months after going public (which came long after they officially started dating), the "Every Little Thing" hitmaker still nearly blushes talking about him.

"It’s just easy," Pearce says. "He completely makes who I am and the parts of me that make me Carly shine, and I’ve never experienced that before."

It's under this pretense that she'll talk about how heartbreak — including the one that inspired her hit debut single — is a good thing, because it means you're not settling. Those old feelings and that pain from breakups past still resonate, and you're going to hear more about it on a project she refers to as CP2, her second studio album. For now it's the cold darkness that makes the sun's glow feel even warmer.

"I never thought in a million years that this is how I'd find love," she says. “All of the cliches that everyone says, that’s really how I feel."

Pearce's new single "Closer to You" captures the sentiment. She didn't write the uptempo, pop-friendly, dobro-laden country cut. She says she was looking for something fun that described what it's like to travel so far away from your love. There's a certain sexiness, too, that pulled her closer. Ray heard it, too.

"I think he got it immediately. I didn't even have to say anything, which I think is exactly what I wanted," she says. "I think this is what fans want to hear from me right now. Fans, for the last year-and-a-half have come up to me and said, 'We want you to find love so bad. We know your heart's been broken. Hold out. Hold out.'"

"As a woman who has a voice now in music, I want to share with fans that I maybe found love a little later than my friends, but I didn't settle and because I didn't settle I feel this way about somebody," she adds.

Big Machine Records

Good friends Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris were among the first to learn Pearce and Ray were dating, partially because they can relate to what it's like to date a touring country singer. The relationship has advanced to the point that everyone feels it's more than a fluke. They've met each other's parents and get along well with one another's family. When asked if the "M" word — marriage — has been used, Pearce plays coy, so apparently there is an end to the stream of information she's willing to share. It's not clear if they'll formally collaborate for Pearce's next album (in August she said they hadn't written together, but a duet might be fun), but she left us with one big tease about some sort of upcoming collaboration.

"I dunno, there might be some things coming," she says innocently before a big Kentucky laugh. "I dunno, we would love to sing together."

At the 2018 CMA Awards, perhaps? On Dancing With the Stars (Pearce was just announced as a Nov. 5 performer)? During the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on Nov. 22 (yep, she'll be there too)? Pearce keeps her secrets as close as she longs to keep her boyfriend in her new song.

True Story, Carly Made the First Move!

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