ALBUM REVIEW: Brett Eldredge – ‘Sunday Drive’

LifeInASong_UK

Brett Eldredge is back with his fourth studio album, ‘Sunday Drive’. It’s been a journey of self-discovery and organic creativity for Brett, who admitted he’d lost his spark and spent a period of time away from social media with only a flip phone, to focus on his songwriting. By shutting off the online-driven world around him, it allowed Brett to find a whole new love and connection with music, and it resulted in an album which he says he’s the most proud of in his career so far. 

The result is a simply phenomenal collection of tracks that introduce us to a revitalised, rootsy Brett Eldredge, showcasing a totally different level of maturity, melodic depth and heart-wrenching storytelling to anything we’ve ever heard from him before. Speaking with us about the album earlier this year, Brett said:

“It’s going to be a profound change that people will hear. It sounds more like ‘me’ than anything ever has. I took more time to not get distracted by the world, and find what I needed to say. I want it to be something on a deeper level to where I’ve ever gone and it takes a lot of jumping into the deep end. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, personally and professionally.”

The opening track sets the scene for the emotional rollercoaster you’re about to embark on as a listener. In this acoustic guitar-driven gem that exposes his soulful vocals to perfection, Brett talks about “looking for something true”. The string section is sublime and adds another layer of depth and emotion to the track, which opens the album in a dramatic fashion and lays the foundations for a project packed full of substance and terrific storytelling.

The longing for contentment and a settled-down life continues into the second track ‘The One You Need’. But this one sees Brett offering to be someone else’s rock, when times get tough and they need someone in their life to fall back on. “When it’s cold outside, and you can’t sleep, when there’s no-one else, let me be the one you need”. It’s a deep, emotionally-charged start to the album, which we haven’t seen on a Brett Eldredge album to date. There’s a clear intention from the off to draw the listener into a totally different world to what we’ve become accustomed to with Brett; a brave and daring move that is executed so powerfully.

The album does have its more up-beat, joyful moments, too. ‘Magnolia’ is an uplifting celebration of young love that went down incredibly well in the UK earlier this year (ahh, the good old days!), whilst ‘Good Day’ is one of the album’s big highlights; a shot of optimism to lift your spirits during these unprecedented times. ‘Fall For Me’ is a stunner, too, with its almost Kacey Musgraves ‘Golden Hour’-esque ethereal production, and finds Brett longing for a magical connection with that special someone. Totally different to anything he’s ever recorded, and it suits his vocal to a tee. 

The title track, ‘Sunday Drive’, is the best song of 2020. Brett found the song years ago when working in A&R, and has been determined to record it ever since, and this project felt like the right fit. It’s a tale of a child going on sunday drives with his parents, not valuing the family time until they become old and grey and he’s taking them for drives, soaking up every second because life doesn’t last forever. The last verse is as heart-wrenching as it gets for anyone who’s been in that situation, as I’m sure so many of us have. “I just helped them to the back seat… Dad just laughed and said ‘don’t drive too far, your mama gets pretty tired these days”. There’s a beautiful innocence and relatability that makes this one so incredibly touching.

Elsewhere, penultimate track ‘Then You Do’ is one of the huge stand-outs in terms of lyrical quality, addressing how life takes you by surprise when you least expect it. “Swear you’re done fallin’ for someone new… you think you won’t, then you do”. This is Brett Eldregde at his very best, and takes us back to the feel of songs like ‘Lose It All’ and ‘Cycles’. It’s super atmospheric and the writing really packs a punch. After that, the piano ballad ‘Paris Illinois’ brings the album to a very appropriate and fitting conclusion, with Brett finding peace in his hometown – “sometimes you gotta lose yourself, to make your way back home”. As we know, Brett is a self-confessed Sinatra fan, and this is the most Sinatra-like he’s ever been, with a flavour of Michael Buble to those brass elements towards the end.

Without a shadow of a doubt, ‘Sunday Drive’ is one of the ‘elite’ albums of 2020 and will be right up there in our year-end list in December. It’s a soul-searching project for Brett where he’s been given complete creative freedom and a licence to express his inner feelings, and it’s quite brilliant. It’s moving, engaging and so relatable, all in equal measure, and most definitely his strongest body of work to date.

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

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