Review: Country singer Eldredge shows growth on 2nd album
Brett Eldredge, "Illinois" (Atlantic/Warner Music Nashville)
Brett Eldredge's second album, "Illinois," is a bold gambit that works.
The broad-shouldered country singer achieved three hits on his 2013 debut, "Bring You Back." But the radio success didn't translate to huge sales or give him media attention afforded to fellow newcomers Sam Hunt or Maddie & Tae.
"Illinois" steps up Eldredge's game by highlighting his R&B interests. For instance, the adventurous first single "Lose My Mind" samples the contemporary Italian composers (brothers Gianfranco Reverberi and Gian Piero Reverberi) that pop duo Gnarls Barkley used on their 2006 hit, "Crazy."
"Illinois" succeeds across a variety of tempos and styles. "Lose It All" is a powerful, old-school ballad set to a 21st Century arrangement; "Time Well Spent" is a mid-tempo anthem for all those who work too much and play too little; and "Shadow" is closer in tone to Miranda Lambert's frisky roots-rock than to Jason Aldean's metal crunch.
With a stout and expressive voice, Eldredge previously has shown the potential to stand out among a crowded field of rising male country singers. "Illinois" gives that talent a more distinctive spotlight.