Album Review: Brett Eldredge - "Sunday Drive"

Country Star's elegant, laid back record is the work of an artist who had to go back home to become the artist he wanted to be with this transformative body of work.

From the very beginning of his recording career, Brett Eldredge was a different kind of country music artist. As talented a vocalist as any within country music, Eldredge forged a career starting with “Raymond” and continuing through to breakthrough single “Don’t Ya” and had a string of hits all the way to 2018’s “Love Someone” with each single a Top 10 and/or certified as a Gold/Platinum single. All the while his star was rising, Brett felt something was missing and thus took most of the past two years to figure out what it was that was missing and the results were a teaming up with Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian for the 12 song Sunday Drive.

The dozen songs on Sunday Drive showcase a singer/songwriter focused on creating the music that touches his heart first, with the hope that if it does that, it’ll reach an audience. This isn’t to say that his heart wasn’t in his previous string of hits but all it takes to know something’s different is to listen to the overall mid tempo tones and organically-derived sonic textures found throughout Sunday Drive.

“Crowd My Mind” features a familiar piano-based melody that renders it a tender, heartfelt melody about a lost love. It recalls some of the better classic ballads from the likes of Billy Joel, Elton John and Ronnie Milsap while familiar hammond organs and pianos back up Eldredge’s nostalgic storytelling on potential radio hit “Magnolia.” Lead single and rising hit “Gabrielle” finds Brett discussing the things that ended a relationship but being happy for the learning experience chalking it up to a couple not being ready for the long haul but since most relationships aren’t that kind, it’s all ok. Oh, it’s all told over a timeless melody that is unlike anything else on the modern country radio dial.

“Good Day” is an uplifting, feel good slice of music about the hope for what is ahead, especially when it comes to future relationships. It’s all about positivity, fresh attitudes and everything that makes for a healthy, happy person and this outlook is just the right way to look at everything, especially the day ahead. Brett first heard the demo of “Sunday Drive” over 10 years ago as an intern at a company. The song stuck with him. He knew he wanted to record it if he ever got the chance to. It’s a substantial, elegant slice of music and is the kind of song radio stations should want to mix in with the latest beat-driven jam but somehow have been lost to the hands of time and relegated to albums, if they ever get heard at all. Kudos to Brett Eldredge for deciding the song needed to be out in the world and heard. It remains the only song he didn’t write on the album (Barry Dean, Don Mescall, and Steve Robson did).

There’s a distinctly “adult” feel to Sunday Drive. It’s devoid of the “bro” or even the “boyfriend” country songs that have dominated the charts for years but this album distinctly feels like Brett Eldredge, the Brett Eldredge that blends his love of torch balladry, jazzy melodies and country music and comes out as one of the most distinctive artists in all of modern country music, circa 2020. Sunday Drive is a record worthy of our time and stands out as one of the best mainstream releases of 2020 to date.