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Brett Eldredge

Illinois – 2015 (Atlantic Nashville)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Brett Eldredge

They're not exactly Waylon and Willie or even Moe and Joe, but Brett Eldredge and Thomas Rhett are becoming quite the duo.

There's the recently announced Suits and Boots tour pairing the burgeoning young country stars. Give a listen to the saucy "You Can't Stop Me" on Eldredge's sophomore release. Rhett's vocals and the memorable line "Goose is loose" helps set the tone for the rest of the 12-song title.

Granted, Eldredge is from small-town farm country in downstate Illinois, but this is a big-sounding, polished record (he assisted on the production) that places the rising star's country crooning front and center. "Going Away for a While" is Eldredge at his lounge-y ballad-crooning finest while he turns in "Lose It All" as a slow-burn heartbreaker.

Really, the soul and R&B feel that threads through much of the record nearly borders on overkill. But Eldredge, who's the brother of Grascals' Terry Eldredge, and his rumbling baritone rein it back in with the autobiographical title cut (he supposedly wrote it with a couple of pals while cruising the back roads around his hometown of Paris, Ill.) and the catchy, clever "Drunk on Your Love."

Eldredge also leans on some familiar rock beats, including the opener "Fire" and the grungy, outlaw country-tinged "Shadow."

What is probably most overshadowed here is Eldredge's estimable songwriting skills. He takes lead credit on each tune, and factoring in that he co-produced the record reveals more than just a pretty face and distinctive vocal pipes.

With just two albums to his credit along with a pocketful of number one singles, Eldredge is making some serious solo noise in Nashville. And now embarking as part of a dynamic new country duo?

Move over, Haggard and Jones. Make room for Brett and Rhett.