Most artists release a self-titled album at the beginning of their career as a sort of introduction into who they are. But Brett Eldredge opted to name his third studio album after himself as a way of showing a new side of himself to his fans.
With two full albums and multiple awards in the bag, Eldredge is ready to take the next step. When it came time to start work on his followup to 2015's Illinois, he put a new emphasis on creating something completely representative of himself. During a candid interview, he admitted that the process was far from easy.
"These were [some of] the hardest songs I've written," Eldredge told Wide Open Country. His song "Cycles," which follows the choices of two on-and-off lovers, offered up a unique challenge.
"If we laugh, then what do we do next? Do we go out on the town and go dancing? Or do we, more realistically, stay in and get more intimate? It was almost like an art or math project of tying everything together. But I loved it. I wanted to be able to piece this thing together and have everyone feel the in and out of what that kind of relationship is like."
Relationships are a big theme within the record. Along with the moving track "Brother," which is all about his relationship with older sibling Brice, there are plenty of cuts that tackle the ups and downs of searching for love. Eldredge spoke openly about his hopes for finding true love sooner rather than later. Momentarily putting his energetic onstage persona aside, he spoke of a chance encounter with a sweet old couple married 65 years that epitomized what he wants for the future.
That winding journey toward "the one" is a pivotal thread found weaved through nearly all the songs on the record. The emotional "No Stopping You" is about letting someone go, while the sugary-sweet "Love Someone" recalls the butterflies felt during a new romance.
Eldredge says he also has a soft spot for love songs, and channeled his own personal experiences into all the songs on his project. The 31-year-old seems especially nostalgic this time around. Although there are still chipper and fun cuts like lead single "Something I'm Good At," Eldredge's talents shine the brightest on tracks like "Castaway," which uses the setting of a peaceful beach to examine his past and future. Even though the poetic song sounds seamless, Eldredge says it "took a lot of rewrites to get that one how we wanted it."
Many critics have been quick to classify Eldredge as a fleeting pop-country act that's only meant to appeal to the genre's youngest fans. But with his latest work, he is once again proving that there's plenty of substance and depth in each of Eldredge's songs.
Along with the sleek, pop-leaning production featured on his previous albums, Eldredge throws in a mix of moody synths and stripped-down acoustic ballads this time around. It's a unique sound that takes elements from an array of genres (a la Keith Urban's RipCORD), but still manages to stay close to his roots.
Instead of worrying about genres and labels or chart placements, Eldredge is simply hoping that his new project with provide a stronger bond with his fans, both new and old.
"I don't want to be just remembered as someone who had some hit songs," Eldredge notes. "I want to know people felt something. I want to have that emotion and share it with people. When I know that people are getting that out of my music, then that's a success."
Brett Eldredge drops on Aug. 4. You can find a full list of his upcoming tour dates here.