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Brett Eldredge

Glow – 2016 (Atlantic Nashville)

Reviewed by Andrew Greenhalgh

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CDs by Brett Eldredge

If things ever go south for Brett Eldredge in the country music field, he should have no problem transitioning into the world of contemporary crooners like Michael Buble and Harry Connick, Jr. For on his debut holiday outing, "Glow," Eldredge takes off his hat and puts on his tuxedo as he delivers a pitch perfect, old-school dose of Christmas cheer. Across a swath of 10 (or 13 for those springing for the deluxe edition) traditional favorites and 1 original, Eldredge taps into a nostalgic vibe, layering smooth, big band orchestration over favorites of the season and showing that he's got the vocal chops to keep up.

The original title track sets the tone, building off of this same template with boisterous pops from the horn section and a peppy backbeat while singing a lyric of love, "You look good in the light of my Christmas tree/You and the mistletoe and me/You are my sunshine in a field of snow, and I love to watch you glow." It's a track that fits hand in glove with Eldredge's duet with pop star Meghan Trainor, a faithful cover of seasonal classic "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

From there on, Eldredge sets the romance aside for warmhearted takes on favorites like "Let It Snow," the string laden "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and a smooth, practiced delivery of "White Christmas." The cover of "Winter Wonderland" has tinges of Sinatra about it, his voice rich and resonant, while takes on "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and a jazzy rendition of "The Christmas Song" round out part of the set alongside a bonus track of "Blue Christmas" that ripples with shades of Ray Charles.

For those in search of the sacred songs of the season, Eldredge delivers there as well. A reverently acoustic take on "Silent Night" is emotive and powerful, the familiar lyrics sweeping over the listener with a sense of warm peace while "The First Noel" gets two showings, on the standard release with instrumentation and on the deluxe as an acappella track. Both are excellent, following the lines of tradition as does the final bonus track, "O Holy Night," which pleasantly explores the tracks oft-unsung extra verses while showcasing Eldredge's powerful vocals.

Eldredge doesn't set out to recreate the wheel on "Glow," choosing, instead, to lean on tradition and nostalgia. The result is an album that possesses a timeless quality while showcasing a surprising side to the celebrated artist.