Warner Music Nashville
Release Date: June 17th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Can’t Keep Up
- Songs About You
- I Feel Fine
- What Else Ya Got
- Get Out Of My House
- Home Sweet Love
- Want That Back
- Wait Up For Me
- Where Do I Sign
- Holy Water
- Where The Light Meets The Sea
The other month way back last year, I reviewed Mr Christmas from Brett Eldredge. I knew nothing about this underrated country singer, yet I took a chance on his latest Christmas album and found myself impressed and inspired by his music. I still knew nothing about Brett… but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I would be intrigued and somewhat anticipating the next album from Brett… and so fast forward to now; and here we are. Brett is still an underrated country artist. He still is someone who I don’t really know a great deal about. He’s an artist that probably won’t be that popular in the country music market (leave it to solo acts like Luke Combs, Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, and Keith Urban to be the popular solo male country artists!)… yet as soon as I heard about the release of Songs About You; I knew I had to check it out and see what I actually thought about the album. In a world and in a time that is so calamitous and uncertain, I firmly believe we need an album that brings us back down to earth, an album that is reliable and dependable. Do we need the flashy album with the glitz and the glamour? Probably. But we also need the album that is the result of the grind and the daily mundane life. we need the album that isn’t the prettiest and isn’t the catchiest; but still brings us comfort. Songs About You is that album. It’s not an album that will win awards. But it is an album that will bring healing, encouragement, and inspiration to all who listen.
That’s a good question [have people started to come to you for advice on how to deal with their own anxiety?]; because it’s true. Because once you become the guy talking about it, you’re supposed to have it all figured out, and I don’t. I definitely am a thousand times better than I used to be. I have a lot more tools now. I think you learn tools, but that doesn’t make the anxiety go away, ever. We all have worries, whether you struggle with anxiety or you just have moments of worry sometimes. Some have it worse than others, but it’s very human to have anxiety. It’s just to what level it is and how do you deal with it.
For me, it’s being able to give myself the space when I need to. Creating structure in my life, like getting up, meditating in the morning and not looking at my phone right away. Putting limits on my social media to where I can only be on for a little while and I get locked out; journaling and going to bed every night at the same time, although when I’m on the road that’s tough.
Also, re-training my mindset. I used to have panic attacks on interviews even. I could have got a panic attack from this at a certain time, just because it’s really important to me and I’m not really nervous about the interview, but I’m going to be triggered because I had one interview where I had a panic attack in, so every time my mind remembers, when I see a camera, it thinks — just like you get into a car crash or whatever — you’re thinking about that. So I had to run towards the things that scare me and breathe through it and let the feelings be there, instead of trying to push it away.
Songs About You is unassuming and probably not what we’ve been used to hearing in terms of country music (or even in music at large) over the past few years. But the subject matter and lyrical content here is still powerful, compelling, and inspiring, as Brett heavily leans into writing about anxiety, mental health, and other taboo topics that the world likes to hide underneath a rug. “Can’t Keep Up”, probably the only ‘superficial’ melody, is the album opener, as Brett raucously and confidently sings about having a good time and drinking your worries away. It’s a song that is an outlier thematically compared to the rest of the album; yet it’s still a reminder that we all do need to have a little fun sometimes, and we all need to loosen up just a little bit. Because if we’re too serious all the time, then what’s the point in living? The title track, conversely, isn’t a happy-go-lucky melody, and is about a break-up. With Brett powerfully declaring that he is trying to get over his ex; he also reiterates that he is trying to once again enjoying the ‘songs about you’ that he previously didn’t like because of the ‘negative connotations’ associated with them. Music can remind us about certain events and memories in our lives, and so this lyrical subject matter from Brett is quite common. Yet as we hear this melody; let’s remember that songs are only songs- and we can attach different meanings to them if we want to.
The rest of Songs About You reveal to us a pretty complex album that overall is very inspiring and solid. “I Feel Fine”, an album highlight, is a ballad that speaks about kicking and leaving behind a toxic relationship or an addiction or a drug or alcohol habit- with the song inspiring us to make an active change in our lives; while “What Else Ya Got” is a pure song about love and intimacy, as Brett honestly and vulnerably sings to his partner- wanting them to know that he is surrendering control and his life to them and that he is willing to be his honest and authentic self around this person. “Hideaway” speaks about having a sea-change in your life, and realising that sometimes you need to take a step back from the busyness and the hustle and bustle- in order to see life more clearly and in order to gain some much welcome and needed perspective. While Brett sings directly to ‘worry’ and ‘anxiety’ (and subtly to the devil) in the mid-tempo ballad- he confidently declares ‘…get out of my house, take your heart with you, and all those things that were never mine anyway, I might be lonely, but I won’t miss you, I’d rather have my peace of mind than have you stay…’, while he also reminds us that The idea was coming out of frustration of the things that weigh down on your mind, and that you let take up real estate in your mind, whether it be worries or somebody not being so good to you or whatever it is. When you hear the record, most people will hear it as somebody that tried to change you in a relationship, and they weren’t very good to you and they were trying to change the person that you are and ‘Get out of my house.’ But I love when there’s another meaning, and the main meaning.
The guitar led slow-tempo ballad “Home Sweet Love” speaks about the similarities amongst many of us and the fact that most of us want the same thing- to be treated with love, respect, dignity and a sense of worthiness. It’s a solid, powerful, and heart-warming melody that isn’t the flashiest, yet is probably one of the most meaningful on the album. “Want That Back”, a reflective, sentimental and nostalgic melody, speaks about the power and the comfort and the homeliness of living and growing up in a small-town, with Brett fervently relaying that he wants to be back in that feeling of a small hometown again; while “Wait Up For Me” is a romantic love song with Brett declaring his immense love for his partner.
“Where Do I Sign” follows thematically from “Wait Up For Me”, and speaks about wanting to be married and to be committed to the person you love for all eternity; while the penultimate track on Songs About You is “Holy Water”. No, it isn’t a We The Kingdom cover. But it’s a love song where Brett references spiritual and religious themes and compares his love for his partner like his love for God. It’s a thing in country music that is often used (writing about romantic partners as if they’re about a relationship with Jesus), and it’s a thing that has been done to death. But it’s somewhat effective here, and thus Brett needs to be congratulated, at being more effective that other country artists (like Kane Brown’s “Worship You”, which is incredibly cheesy!). Songs About You then ends with the introspective “Where The Light Meets The Sea”. It’s a sad song, about someone on death’s door, or maybe someone who has to go away. Either way, this person is singing to his partner, and assuring them that ‘…we’re all lookin’ for heaven, hope that heaven’s lookin’ for me, I’m a dreamer and I’ve always believed, in the place where the light meets the sea…’. It’s a melancholy track and probably the most emotional on the entire album. Yet it’s a song that needs to be listened to, as we dwell upon the ever-taboo topic of eternity and salvation in Jesus Christ.
It’s frustrating. It’s tough. Art is always going to be art. The way it gets out to people now is different than it was when I first got here. The pressures of feeling like you need to create these moments on social media platforms, after you’ve spent like two years making a record, and now you gotta figure out ways of creating content. I think you’re starting to see it with a lot of artists talking about it. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about is what TikTok trend I need to be part of. That’s the life I don’t really wanna go after. I know every artist is feeling this now. I’ll still do some of it, but I’m not gonna let it run my life.
I lock myself out [of social media]. I can’t look at my phone until 9 o’clock in the morning, and I can’t be on it after 8:30 p.m. It locks me out. And I only have social media for like an hour and a half, all platforms. So if I want to use those platforms to tell my story, I have to be mindful of how I use it. I was running and I just kept thinking, ‘Lead, don’t follow,’ like just keep going your own route. I just kept repeating it and I ran like six miles by the end of it. The message of this record is to just find your thing you do in life and go after it, despite what others think. If you believe in it and you’re honest with yourself, people are gonna join along with you.
Brett Eldredge’s Songs About You isn’t the most perfect nor polished nor refined country album. Other new-ish albums by Luke Combs or Jimmie Allen (both albums that we intend to review in the future) would probably have to be more poppy and much more publicised. However, this album is still poignant, positive, hopeful, comforting, and inspiring, and hopefully will be on rotation on many listeners’ playlists for a while yet. Songs About You isn’t that revolutionary though. But it does speak about hard hitting topics about anxiety, mental health, nostalgia, and death, and it does talk about family and friendship. It’s probably not for people who don’t necessarily love mid tempo ballads and slower songs (the album opener of “Can’t Keep Up” is the most energetic track on this album!), but these songs are pretty seamless, and there are a few gems and treasures. Brett isn’t your household name, but this album hopefully will put his name further in the spotlight. Well done, Brett, I can’t wait to hear what is next from you!
3 songs to listen to: I Feel Fine, Get Out Of My House, Where the Light Meets The Sea
RIYL: Chris Stapleton, Keith Urban, Carly Pearce, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Luke Combs