For New Album, Brett Eldredge Returned To Midwest Roots, Literally

And he calls it “the best thing I’ve ever done”

By kncitom on June 23, 2020
(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

Identity is everything for an artist” says Brett Eldredge. We’re talking as I record the latest episode of my Write You a Song songwriter podcast, and Brett is explaining why he felt it was important to not just travel back to his small hometown of Paris, Illinois, but to bring his producers, too.

 “You know when you hear your favorite artist, you know exactly who that is when you hear ’em. And I think a big part of that is where they come from, the story that they’re telling and the heart of the place these songs are born in and for me, it’s the Midwest“. 

Brett’s been on quite a journey since his last album, 2017’s “Brett Eldredge”. As most folks know, he was quite active on social media, one of the best follows, actually…until he wasn’t. Feeling unfocused and distracted, Brett decided to dial back his digital dependency. So much so he famously reverted to a flip phone for awhile. He’s back to a smart phone now but he has apps that keep track of and limit his screen time. It’s all in an effort to get back to the person he most feels he is: a man from a small town in Illinois.

It’s a unique place to grow up, and I wanted to be a voice for the heart of the Heartland, you know?” And to really capture that voice in the recording studio, he made a point to bring his 2 new producers, Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk (who produced Kacey Musgraves’ acclaimed Golden Hour) back to Paris for a visit. “I wanted them….to see and feel the streets, and the downtown square that’s kinda fallin’ apart but still has it’s soul, that ‘small town’ in it, and the Midwest hospitality that’s way different than the…hospitality that you would get in Nashville, say. It’s its own thing, and you can only really see and feel it if you go there.

Brett, who wrote or co-wrote all but one of the songs on the album, even recorded it in the Midwest- in Chicago, “which was way outside the zone of recording in Nashville“, he says. “Nashville is Music City, I’ve made all my records here but I wanted to push (and) give another outlook on my music and I think I needed to go to a different place” both figuratively and literally. Brett calls the experience “the best thing I’ve ever done“.

Not having heard the whole album I can’t speak to that. But just judging by the songs released so far  (the project is called Sunday Drive, and it’s officially out July 10th) there’s a lot of sentimentality…but Brett isn’t just resting on a bed of memories from the “good ol’ days”. The songs so far are not so much about the nostalgia of being from somewhere as they are recalling the place you were raised- that shaped you and made you who you are.  And from that, there springs a lot of optimism and hope. It’s like he had to go back to get a clearer idea of where he wants to go.

Check out the lyric video for just one of the songs, Where The Heart Is, here, and see what I mean. 

Below, you can hear more of Brett talking about returning to Paris. And you’ll be able to hear the entire interview, plus clips of several of his new songs, when the next Write You a Song drops July 1st. 



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