Brett Eldredge Says New Album ‘Songs About You’ Is About ‘Me Finding Confidence in Myself’

Brett Eldredge Says New Album ‘Songs About You’ Is About ‘Me Finding Confidence in Myself’

Back in 2020, singer-songwriter Brett Eldredge was ready for a career rejuvenation. Since releasing his debut album, Bring You Back, in 2013, Eldredge had earned five No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits and a CMA Award win for best new artist, but yearned to make music that revealed even more of himself. He took a break from social media, re-centering his focus on making music for himself, not country radio, and issued the creative high-water mark Sunday Drive.

On his seventh studio album, Songs About You, out Friday (June 17), the Warner Music Nashville artist offers a natural progression of Sunday Drive — this time, putting his nuanced vocals even more to the forefront.

“I’ve been this vocalist for a long time, but there always a place for me to grow, to get my vocal out there more than it has been,” Eldredge tells Billboard via Zoom. “I was talking with my manager [Q Prime South’s John Peets] and we were talking about some of my favorite records from Ray Charles, Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra. Their vocals were all way out front and they owned it.”

Eldredge points to a track from Charles’s 1959 album The Genius of Ray Charles, “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and Sinatra’s Grammy-winning  “It Was a Very Good Year.”

“Those songs are part of me, and that’s what I want my music to do for listeners. Songs About You is me finding my confidence in myself. I’m owning who I am now and these lyrics and my vocal,” Eldredge says. “I think people are going to notice a profound difference.”

As with Sunday Drive, Eldredge challenged himself by again working with new producers — this time with Nathan Chapman, Mark Trussell, Dave Cobb and Jordan Reynolds.

“The reception we got on Sunday Drive was so powerful. It was obviously a strange time to put out a record for anybody, but people accepted that record in such a different way, and it gave me a lot of confidence,” Eldredge says. “Within a few months, I was already writing for the next record.”

In addition to being a co-writer on each of his five Country Airplay No. 1s, including “Don’t Ya” and “Mean to Me,” Eldredge has written songs recorded by Trace Adkins, Gary Allan, Jake Owen and more. He had a hand in writing every song on his new dozen-track collection, working with writers to craft songs that challenge listeners to build a life they love (the energetic “Can’t Keep Up”), to embrace life’s journey (“Holy Water,” “Where the Light Meets the Sea”) and to appreciate memories and simpler times (“Want That Back”).

Among Eldredge’s co-writers was longtime collaborator Heather Morgan, who co-wrote eight of the songs on Songs About You, and also provides background vocals on “Can’t Keep Up” and “I Feel Fine.”

“It’s so rare in life to find people that see and hear you for who you are and want to help you be able to tell that story,” Eldredge says. “No matter who I bring her into the writing room with, even if it’s somebody new, I’m always confident with her and I know she’s gonna just totally capture it in the song. It’s just a gift when I’m mumbling lyrics and she is finishing my sentences.”

This time around, the arrangements lean sparse and airy, with Eldredge’s demo vocals making the final cut on songs including “Can’t Keep Up.” The vocal heard on “What Else Ya Got” was a one-take performance, recorded live with minimal piano accompaniment in the studio. On “Hideaway,” written around a campfire in Wyoming, listeners can hear bits of crackling from the fireplace in the background.

Sonically, the album strips away anything that would distract from the project’s vocals and lyrics, which find Eldredge digging deeper into not only themes of love and heartbreak, but mental health. Songs such as “Get Out of My House” and “I Feel Fine” directly address his struggle with anxiety.

“I’ve been through the ringer of this, and I finally got to the point of ‘You gotta stand up for yourself — you gotta be there for yourself, even to the bullies there in your head.’” he says.

Eldredge is one of several country artists, including Kelsea Ballerini and Brothers Osborne’s John Osborne, who have spoken out lately about the importance of caring for mental health. “I saw John talking about mental health pretty openly, which is cool,” Eldredge says. “He and I have talked about it through the years, and I have talked about that in writing sessions, even with strangers.

“I’ve felt broken at times where I couldn’t even get on stage, hardly,” he continues. “I had to sit down on stage ‘cause I lost my breath or maybe I was having a panic attack in the middle of an interview. To be able to say all these things and realize that other artists go through these things, there are days when we’re exhausted and we don’t feel like we can do it, or have a breakdown backstage or whatever. It’s just life — whether you’re a performer or working nine to five at a desk, it’s all life, and it comes at you. It’s about pushing through it and gaining resilience. Life happens for you, not to you, and I’ve really started to learn that.”

Eldredge says therapy sessions have been key — even doing Zoom therapy sessions when he’s on tour, a practice he’ll likely continue when his Songs About You tour launches the 24-date tour on June 19.

“Therapy is so important and there are a lot of ways to access therapy now, which is beautiful,” he says. “I encourage anyone who thinks it is weird or uncomfortable, to try it. I was uncomfortable the first time I did it. It’s getting more normalized to talk about it, which is great. And the first one you try might not be the right one. You find the person that really works great with you.”

Like most artists, Eldredge says he struggles to find the balance between art and commerce, given the proliferation of social media outlets—along with the demands for constant content to populate those platforms.

“It’s frustrating. It’s tough,” he says. “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.”

Eldredge says he’s learned to set boundaries on social media. “I lock myself out. 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.,” he explains. “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.”

Coming full-circle, he says it was another mental health outlet, running, that helped inspire the mission for Songs About You.

“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,” he recalls. “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 Says New Album ‘Songs About You’ Is About ‘Me Finding Confidence in Myself’ Back in 2020, singer-songwriter Brett Eldredge was ready for a career rejuvenation. Since releasing his debut album, Bring You Back, in 2013, Eldredge had earned five No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits and a CMA Award win for best new artist,…