Next Big Thing isn't Erin McCarley's middle name, but it ought to have been early on in her career. This singer-songwriter blessed with the most soulfully sunny Little Voice this side of Sara Bareilles and a penchant for pouring her guts out into the kind of whimsically winsome acoustic-esque adult alt pop that hasn't stopped climbing the charts since Norah Jones first asked us to come away with her. More than just a trend-jockey, however, McCarley's timely sound is also very much the result of the route she traveled to get to her Universal-released debut: This Texas native sang in a country cover band in college before moving to San Diego to soak up the mellow beach vibes and ... not pursue music. But something about the SoCal sunshine gave McCarley the songwriting bug, and she spent days sequestered in her house, at first writing and later collaborating with producer and keyboardist Jamie Kenney on what would become Love, Save the Empty. Her big break came at the 2008 South by Southwest festival, where she scored a record deal with Universal. These days, McCarley calls Nashville home -- which seems a rather appropriate place to launch a career as the Next Big earthy, expressive singer-songwriter.