Brett Eldredge: “I Want to Make Everybody Happy”

Talks Self-Titled Album and Sharing the Spotlight With Edgar

Whenever a Brett Eldredge song comes on, there’s no denying who it is. He can croon like Frank Sinatra and wail like a soul man.

For his new self-titled album, available Friday (Aug. 4), his most sonically ambitious collection to date, it was important to him to show his range in musicality. He co-wrote all 12 songs, and elements of pop, rock and soul are weaved throughout the music.

“If I’m going to put my name on this album, it has to be a representative of everything that I love in music,” Eldredge told CMT.com recently. “I wanted it to completely embody what I do as an artist and represent who I am as a songwriter and as a singer.”

Most of the material on the album covers one of his favorite subjects — love — an emotion he believes everyone was born to express and feel. He opens with “Love Someone,” a feel-good number celebrating the simplicity of the emotion. He follows that with “Superhero,” a song about saving someone from being brokenhearted over a relationship gone bad.

In the “The Long Way,” he sings of loving another for everything they are, flaws and all. In the chorus, he sings, “Take me the long way around your town/Were you the queen with the silver crown?/I want the secrets you keep/That shine underneath of the diamond I think I just found/Take me the long way around.”

“That little piece at the top of the chorus,” he said, “it struck a chord with me because I immediately thought, ’OK, what if it’s about the conversations that we hardly ever have anymore, but they are the conversations that you really want to have with somebody you’re really crazy about?’

“I think it’s a reminder to myself and to everybody to just try to get out there and find that person and really connect,” he added. “That’s important, and I think that’s why it resonates not only with myself, but it’s probably gotten the biggest reaction out of any song I’ve had that isn’t on the radio yet.”

He admits singing love songs is also his personal way of encouraging his followers to never settle for anything less than the love they deserve.

“I’m a hopeless romantic, for sure,” he said. “I’m a believer in soulmates. I’m a believer that there are people out there for you. And you have to keep your eyes open for them and believe in the world of how it comes around to you when you wait it out. I think I try to sing songs to capture all the different parts about what it’s like to try to find love.”

In the emotive acoustic closer, “Castaway,” he addresses what it’s like to runaway from love.

“I’ve been guilty of that many times,” he said, “until you figure out that what you needed the whole time was love and you try find your way back. Love is the most relatable language in the world, and I think to be able to make a whole record that kind of surrounds that is really special.”

CMT.com: It’s what we were all born to do.

Eldredge: It’s what we were all born to do. Some people figure it out quicker than others, and some people just wait long enough that it’s the right time when it’s the right time.

Your live performance is always an uplifting experience. Have you always been a champion for others?

Yeah. Sometimes I’ll beat myself up over it, but I want to make everybody happy, which can sometimes wear your energy completely out. You’ve got to give yourself time, too. And I’ve found the balance of that through touring, but I want to go up there onstage and I want everybody in that room to feel special and forget about the world for a little bit.

It’s so freeing as an artist to be able to do that now and realize what I get back from the fans is double what they get from me. I try to give them everything, but they give me so much more. That’s a special relationship.

The new album has several co-writers that have contributed to your past albums including Tom Douglas, Ross Copperman and Heather Morgan. Do you feel like you’ve assembled your long-term creative partners?

It’s sure going well in the first several years of my career. I’ve had such a special relationship with Ross and Heather, and I think they both have four or five songs on this record. When somebody gets you, they get you. … We were all just a bunch of wannabe songwriter-singers in this town trying to figure it out, and we figured it out together.

We got to experience the lows of the lows and the high of the highs together, and it makes you want to write better songs. It makes you experience the music business in more of a family community way when you’ve got the same people who are fighting the same fight you’re fighting.

Since this is a self-titled album, what are some things about you that will never change as your career continues to grow?

I think staying grounded and staying true to myself will always be part of who I am. I still feel like I am the same goofball I was when I first moved to Nashville. Having a close family, I feel very blessed to have them, and having them always keeps me in check, as well.

Last year, you adopted your dog, Edgar. Is he a “people dog”? How did you get him used to being onstage?

He is very much a people dog. He’s got kind of my personality, so he can be also reserved and hidden away, too.

He needs Edgar time.

Yeah, and a lot of people don’t get to see that side of me. So he’s a little bit of an introvert and then he’ll be all over the place licking everybody and running up to them. But I’ll bring him onstage a decent amount of time. He used to be so scared, he’d crawl on his stomach, and so I was like, “I can’t bring him up here anymore.” But then I got him this puppy ear protection, and he started getting a little less scared.

There’s puppy ear protection?

Yeah, they look like the ear protectors you wear when running a weed eater or something. When he does his trick live and he drops the mic, he’ll sprint offstage. It’s really funny.

He hasn’t had an accident onstage yet?

No. But that would be pretty funny though.

Elredge will be on an all-new CMT Hot 20 Countdown, premiering Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 5-6) at 9 a.m. ET/PT.

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.