Brett Eldredge
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Brett Eldredge ‘Bring You Back’ – Album Review

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There’s been quite a bit of buzz about Brett Eldredge’s debut album. After all, he’s been releasing singles since 2010’s ‘Raymond’. 2011 saw ‘It Ain’t Gotta Be Love’ (which only reached #46 and didn’t make it to this record) and 2012 saw the radio #1 and Hot Country Songs top 5 hit ‘Don’t Ya’, which heads up ‘Bring You Back’, and no doubt helped it hit #2 in its first week of release. Brett co-wrote every song on the album apart from the title track, which is no mean feat and should be applauded.

Brett has previously said that his music is not the kind of party, trucks and tailgates anthems that have perpetrated the country charts and commandeered country radio. Instead, he has said, his music is rooted in love songs. That’s an accurate description, and it does take the mainstream country scene back a few years to when this was more of the mainstay. However, Brett does take influence from the “driving with that pretty young thing” trend, for example on lead single ‘Don’t Ya’. Despite this is it’s a really good song, with an infectious banjo line, a catchy chorus, a slightly soulful feel, and one of my favorite hooklines this year (the repetition at the end of the chorus). Though the verse lyrics leave a bit to be desired, the rest of the lyrics aren’t too bad at all considering the oft-repeated dire subject matter.

This theme of “paradise-like summer meeting hot girl” carries on into ‘Beat of The Music’, about falling in love with a girl in Mexico on the dancefloor. Again, however, the lyrics can be forgiven for a great melody and production. Admittedly, this is not pure country music, and takes much influence from pop and rock stylings, but it does have a root in country, and I like how there’s plenty of moments of interest, little vocal flicks and plenty of playing with rhythm that is crazy addictive. Another along this lyrical theme is opener ‘Tell Me Where To Park’, whose banjo basis and edgy rocky feel with descending minor key melody distract me yet again from the subject matter, although the lyrics here are decidedly more interesting than most. Brett wasn’t entirely truthful in his description of the album being just love songs, as clearly there are a few of these pick-up songs, although as I said the musical aspect of these more than makes up for it and I’ve really enjoyed listening.

Speaking of the music, another part of it that must be touched upon is Brett’s soulful vibe that appears quite regularly throughout. ‘Don’t Ya’ has some hints of it, but it really kicks in during ‘On And On’, which as promised is more of a “love song”, although I guess how you correctly define that is up to the individual listener. It’s a cute song with a great laid-back feel and some nice guitar work. ‘Gotta Get There’ follows, both in the track listing and in the same musical ideas, and is one of my favorites on the record, largely due to the unique melody and the infectious beat. Brett’s vocals are really good throughout the twelve tracks, bluesy, soulful, and at times reminding me of Darius Rucker, particularly on ‘Waited Too Long’.

‘Waited Too Long’ is an example of the more polished pop-sounding tracks on ‘Bring You Back’ (although there’s some Brad Paisley-esque bluesy guitar work in the background), and taps into the heartbreak genre that Brett seems to be really good at putting across. Another like this is ‘Go On Without Me’, with the polished production and a heartbreak that promises he’ll always be watching out for her, but she should go on without him. It’s a great set of lyrics and has an awesome chorus. The title track is more ambiguous of its meaning, not clear whether his love felt she couldn’t love him anymore, or whether there’s more to this story. It’s a strange one, but those are sometimes the best songs, because each person has a different interpretation and there’s always discussion to be had. It’s one of the most memorable on the record, too.

Brett seems to hit a vocal intimacy on that song that isn’t on some of the other tracks, but is on ‘Mean To Me’. ‘Mean To Me’ involves more of an acoustic sensibility and has a stripped back feel, as well as some beautiful lyrics. Of course, ‘Raymond’ also has beautiful lyrics, and for those who don’t know is about a woman with dementia who thinks the narrator (who’s just a cleaner at the hospital) is her dead son, calling him ‘Raymond’. It’s a gorgeous song and a huge highlight of ‘Bring You Back’, which leads me onto ‘One Mississippi’. With a bluesy approach and vocals that remind me so much of Blake Shelton, ‘One Mississippi’ is a country ballad with a really strong lyric and a heartbreak that feels really real and raw. “Baby I could have helped you through it, You built a wall and I couldn’t get to it, Now I’m waiting for the rain, and the pain to come”. You really feel every line with this one, and it touched me far more than any of the others.

Finally, we have ‘Signs’, paying attention to tradition here Brett is singing about his home town of Paris, Illinois, with plenty of little details of life there. Full of stories rather than paradise-esque clichés, I think this would do really well as a single, and has a great fiddle line. This is a really strong debut with a variety of musical influences and sounds, and while the lyrics don’t always live up to the music, many of them are heartfelt and Brett puts them across really well. I thoroughly enjoyed listening and would definitely recommend!