Even though Brett Eldredge hasn't released a single in two years -- his hit "Love Someone" came out in June of 2018 -- he's been teasing new music on Instagram for a while and sharing a silhouette portrait of his "Gabrielle."
"Got a lot to say...bout to hit ya with the sounds of the heart of the heartland from the Windy City," he wrote.
In a virtual call with reporters earlier this week, Eldredge answered questions about the brand new piano-heavy tune he penned with Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk and about his two-year hiatus from new music.
When it was my turn to ask Eldredge -- who is from a tiny town in Illinois -- about the music, I wanted to know why he recorded this song and other new ones in Chicago. Here's what he had to say.
"I recorded the whole album up there," Eldredge said of the Wicker Park studio where he recorded the new music. "It was very stripped down. I mean, it was just me and Ian and Daniel, and we brought one of our other musician friends in for some of it. It was so interesting because it's a small, small studio, but it's got a lot of character.
"I wanted to have that feeling of how we were making demos in Dan's garage -- where it was not a big space -- and it made us have to play and play and play on top of each other. It's like a form of communication. And when you're right there, I was doing my vocals in the same room as the drums and everything."
While Chicago loves its live country music, it is not exactly known for being a place to record country music. (It's very possible that no one has made a major country album here since Steve Goodman produced John Prine's Bruised Orange in the Windy City in 1978.)
And it sounds like Eldredge was after that same kind of different sound.
"I wanted it to be like you're hearing the band vibe right there, and just rip your heart out with the emotion of it. And I think we really nailed it in Chicago. Walking those streets every day and just being in that energy that really gives it that Midwest sound. So there was some Chicago flavor to it, as well as some of the roots of Paris, where I come from," he added of his hometown roughly 200 miles south of the city.
"I've made a very purposeful shift in the way I see the world through my music and everything."
"Gabrielle" is a shift, for sure.
"I have been making records a certain way for a long time, and I don't want to downplay that that's what got me here," he shared. "But I found a place where there's so much more that I have as an artist that I haven't shown. So I had to really shake up the process. I needed to get a different lens on what I was doing as an artist and as a person."
The story he's telling in "Gabrielle," Eldredge said, is a real-life true story. (He wouldn't name names of who Gabrielle really is, though.) But more anything, the ballad is a universally relatable story about those feelings of bittersweetness after a break up. "It's about wishing the other person well in their life, wherever they are," he said.
"But you still kind of look back and wonder what that person's up to and where they are now and what it could have been."