By Emily Wagner
Brett Eldredge knew all along that he had more to offer; better songs, better lyrics, better production, and boy did he ever deliver in his latest album Sunday Drive.
Over a year ago, Brett let his fans know he was going dark: off of social media, just a flip phone and a Polaroid camera. He wanted to be free of distractions and focus on life in front of him, not behind a camera. That sentiment, that life altering decision is no doubt everywhere on this album. It’s simplistic, yet fuller than any of his previous albums, or any other album on the charts today.
And the instruments.
Every song is crisp and clear, and not overly produced, making not only Eldredge’s shine, but the band as well. Don’t get me started on the horns and strings tug and pull on “Paris, Illinois,” the last track on the album, paying homage to the town that raised him.
Never has an album fully encompassed its title track. This album is the perfect piece to turn on during a lazy Sunday afternoon, down a deserted road, or under a big oak tree.
But the track “Sunday Drive” has actually been the ace up Brett’s sleeve for over a decade now. He discovered the song in 2010 before he even signed a record deal and immediately connected with it. Ironically it’s the only song he did not write on the album. It depicts a sobering yet sweet view on the circle of life, from being a small child in the backseat as mom and dad drove around, to becoming an adult and picking your parents up for a drive.
Throughout the album Brett weaves more questions than answers, whether that comes in the form of love lost in “Gabrielle”, Eldredge’s first single from the album or in “When I Die,” the age old question of how we are remembered when we are no longer walking on this Earth.
The entire album kicks off with the biggest question. After a few measures of acoustic guitar, the first words out of Brett’s mouth are “What in the world, what in the world are we all doing here?” No doubt “Where the Heart Is” was specifically picked as the first song of the album to bring us all into Eldredge’s world that he’s been inhabiting the past few years.
Eldredge loosens up on “Magnolia” a sure commercial success if ever given the chance to hit the radio, and “Good Day” is a song that full encompasses Brett’s mantra for the past few years. “Fall For Me” gives major vibes of Kacey Muscgraves’ Golden Hour album, which makes sense given that Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, who produced Kacey’s album, also produced “Sunday Drive.” The song sounds different from anything on the album, different than anything we’ve ever heard from Brett, which is always a treat.
Throughout it all, the album feels like a time capsule. With Brett’s smooth voice and the use of strings and horns, and keys, this album could no doubt have been plucked straight from the 1940’s, with Brett channeling his inner Sinatra. As it was Brett’s goal to create more meaningful, impactful music, music that stays with people and invokes feelings, it’s clear that his decision to take a step back and focus on life, music and happiness, paid off.