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Brett Eldredge – Illinois album review

The rising country star releases his second album.

Brett Eldredge
Credit: Atlantic Nashville
Brett Eldredge - Illinois

Credit: Rhino

Rising country star Brett Eldredge enjoyed a breakthrough in a big way when his 2012 single Don’t Ya became his first to top the US Country Airplay charts. The single sold over 1 million copies in the US alone and provided the perfect platform for the singer-songwriter to launch his debut album Bring You Back. The next two singles from the album – Beat of the Music and Mean to Me – gave him another two number 1 airplay hits, with Mean to Me giving him his highest peak on the US Country Chart at number 4. The lead single from Eldredge’s second album Illinois, Lose My Mind, did even better landing him his fourth consecutive number 1 on the US Country Airplay chart and peaking at number 2 on the US Country Chart. Illinois is now getting a UK release ahead of Eldredge’s debut UK tour dates, which kick off on Valentine’s Day.

Illinois is an album that is part progression and part new territory for Eldredge. As always his personality shines through on each track but musically he’s more adventurous on this record. Lead single Lose My Mind is one of the boldest songs on the record, and clearly from its chart success the risk has been worth it. The song features a catchy melody, a strong vocal from Eldredge and a pumping beat that gives him his best chance of crossover success yet. Follow-up single Drunk On Your Love continues to deliver strong hooks and melodies, making it unsurprising that the song has found a willing audience on country radio.

Eldredge had a hand in writing every track on Illinois and he really is proving himself as a fantastic songwriter. For much of the album he’s worked with Ross Copperman and Heather Morgan, and the trio make a winning team. From the punchy opener Fire through to the mid-tempo hummable melody of album closer Going Away For a While, the songs on here all deserve their place.

There are nods to Eldredge’s first album on Illinois. Wanna Be That Song is the kind of soaring ballad that is destined to be chosen as a first dance song and the lovelorn optimism of If You Were My Girl has an endearing charm.

Perhaps one of the biggest departures on the record is Eldredge’s collaboration with former tour mate Thomas Rhett on You Can’t Stop Me. The song injects some R&B and funk into the mix sounding closer to Rhett’s most recent output than anything Eldredge has done before. The song brings out Eldredge’s more soulful side and it’s a side I hope we see more of on his next record.

Elsewhere on the record title track Illinois is an autobiographical tale giving Eldredge an opportunity to pay homage to his hometown, the seductive rhythms of Just a Taste are simply irresistible, and Shadow find Eldredge rocking out a lot harder than I’ve heard previously. The beautiful Lose it All is a definite standout, again bringing that soulful edge of Eldredge’s voice to the fore.

Illinois is a very strong collection of songs from Eldredge. There’s a reason that he’s being hailed as the next big thing in country music and it’s clear he knows his way around a hook-laden melody. Illinois may not be quite as instant as Bring You Back was but with repeated listens you’ll soon realise it’s a better album. I can’t wait to hear Eldredge bring these songs to life at his debut London show on Sunday night.

Watch the video for Drunk On Your Love below:

Track listing: 1. Fire 2. You Can’t Stop Me (feat. Thomas Rhett) 3. Lose My Mind 4. Wanna Be That Song 5. Time Well Spent 6. If You Were My Girl 7. Illinois 8. Just A Taste 9. Drunk On Your Love 10. Lose It All 11. Shadow 12. Going Away For A While Record Company: Rhino Release Date: 5th February 2016

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