Editors’ Notes “I got to the point where I felt like there was more I still could do, like I was leaving a lot on the table still,” Brett Eldredge tells Apple Music of the period of reflection and reinvention that led to his fifth album, Sunday Drive. A country-pop crooner with thoroughly contemporary sensibilities, he’d scored hits throughout the 2010s with songs he had a hand in writing, but after briefly stepping back from the spotlight, he was ready to adopt a more personalized singer-songwriter approach. He selected Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian, who’d helped Kacey Musgraves achieve her artistic breakthrough on Golden Hour, as songwriting and studio partners and incorporated bits of insight and perspective from his interior life. “To be able to take that leap of faith was the best thing I ever did,” says Eldredge. Intent on getting a bit of distance from Nashville, he, Fitchuk, and Tashian headed to Chicago for recording sessions that yielded a warm, ’70s soft-rock sound. “I think that's what allowed me to really make a special record like this, was to get away from the noise and get away from other opinions and forget about the business,” says Eldredge. “You're completely out of your usual zone and it brings something else out in you. It certainly brought something else out of me.” Here Eldredge takes a leisurely trip through the songs of Sunday Drive.

Where the Heart Is
“This was the song that captured the journey that I was trying to go on to make this album—stepping away from everything and finding that spark, that version of myself that was unfazed by any other opinions. When I first moved to Nashville, and you're knocking on people's doors and handing them a CD because you don't care what they say. You just want them to hear your voice and you want to put yourself out there. And then the world and the business of everything shows up, and you feel like you don't get to be that person as much. And then you start putting guards up and you lose a sense of that person. I wanted to find that person again, and that was the whole goal of making this album. The way it starts is with that guitar; it makes you wait a little bit. I love that. It's been years since I put out a record, so there's a little bit of anticipation.”

The One You Need
“I wanted to be more realistic to what love and relationships were like in my personal life. I've always been known as a guy that sings love songs and all these songs about being deeply in love, and I've never really been in love. I know glimpses of it. I know what it can possibly be, but I've never really been deeply in love. I want to be able to be there for someone like that. It's not a guarantee. It's not for sure. But I know that it's a possibility, and I want to be here for that.”

Magnolia
“I was listening to a lot of Billy Joel and Elton John, The Band and Bob Dylan—a lot of rootsy stuff. I love the sound of mandolin. This song has that kind of feel of a nostalgic yesterday, but just feels a little bit different and unique to itself. The bridge says it all: ‘It's a shame that you grow up when you do, because all the miles and all the years take a piece of you. I guess everything gets cut down over time. But that don't mean I don't go back there in my mind.’ It reflects this kind of carefree feeling of what you thought was love at that time in your life.”

Crowd My Mind
“It's a pretty heavy song. I had just got back from a trip in California. I rented a little beach house out there. I was just by myself and very isolated. For Southern California, it was really rainy and really cold. It was very reflective of the people that were on my mind. It's stripped back. The song is mostly just piano and a vocal and a little bit of percussion.”

Good Day
“It's like discovering that you need to look at the world differently than you've been looking at it. I try to be a positive person, but it comes time in life where you can wake up in the morning and be like, ‘Man, I got all this going on in my life and this here is just another day.’ I think I was realizing that my mind would get in that thought pattern sometimes, and becoming self-aware that I need to make that conscious decision to start my day and say, ‘What if I change it up? You can pick to have a good day and try to put your right foot forward.’ That doesn't mean it's guaranteed to be a good day just because you say that, but if you make that decision, at least you're heading in the right direction. I think that was big for me to realize that.”

Fall for Me
“This guy named Pat McLaughlin, he's an awesome artist and songwriter. He’s the king of groove and feel. I've always loved to write with him, but I've never gotten to record a song that I wrote with him. So I get in there to write with him and Daniel one day. He just has this cool groove, and he's singing this kind of half-put-together chorus. It's one of those songs you put on and it just kind of transports you.”

Sunday Drive
“I'm an appreciator of family and of memories of the things that shaped you into the person that you are now. This is the only song I didn't write. I heard this song over 10 years ago as an intern, and I was so blown away by it. I was just hoping and praying that no one would record it, because I felt like I needed to grow into this song. This is where I got to this record and I got in a place in my life, kind of growing up, self-reflective, in that crossroads of really appreciating those things. I think this song really puts that in perspective. From being a little kid in the back seat with your family, and then going to high school, singing and rolling the windows down and feeling like you're free and it's always going to be this way. Then all of a sudden you're a grown-up and you're helping your parents in the back seat and they're growing older and you're growing older, and you just realize that fragility of time and how to make every moment count.”

When I Die
“It's just one of those songs that just popped up. I was doing a meditation. In the meditation, it talked about imagining if today was the last day your life. How would you want to spend it? How would you want to live and how would you want to go out? Letting go of all that, or at least making your best attempt to let go of all the little things and actually live. So it's not actually really about dying as much as it's about living.”

Gabrielle
“This is a real story for me. You can relate to a past relationship that just didn't work. I like that it's that specific. I think having this specific memory and being able to realize that was a good moment and you didn't go the distance, but you're glad you were there for it.”

Fix a Heart
“I wrote this song in the Florida Keys with my friend Scooter Carusoe. I was at a place where I was kind of talking about my journey and then life of how I get caught up in just making music and traveling to the next place. I don't have time to get tied down. It took me a while to understand it takes a good woman to fix a heart, all these things. You're kind of just avoiding yourself from a really great thing. The horns in there are something that I've always wanted to do.”

Then You Do
“I've sung a lot of love songs that end with happy endings. But the reality is a lot of times you put yourself out there and things seem to go great, and then next thing you know, she says goodbye and splits your world in two. But you’ve got to put yourself out there. That's what life is. It's the ups and downs and showing up for it.”

Paris Illinois
“This was the last song we wrote before we headed up to Chicago to record this album. We were going to stop through Paris, Illinois, my hometown, on the way up. It's about halfway from Nashville to Chicago. The way you remember your hometown and remember the place you come from, it's going to be a lot more magical than when you actually show them that. Even when I go back home now, the mom-and-pop shops are mostly closed down and run down. The square is not as in good shape as it used to be. But the heart's still there and the courthouse still stands and the good people are still there. I still go back to the nostalgia of the way it made me feel as a kid, even if it doesn't look like that anymore. That kind of led to a song that's got these horns and strings and is a little bit of a dream. The record started out by trying to find my heart, and it's going to end with me realizing that it's at home.”

SONG
Where the Heart Is
1
4:07
 
The One You Need
2
4:05
 
Magnolia
3
3:24
 
Crowd My Mind
4
3:08
 
Good Day
5
3:25
 
Fall For Me
6
3:35
 
Sunday Drive
7
4:53
 
When I Die
8
3:07
 
Gabrielle
9
3:36
 
Fix A Heart
10
3:59
 
Then You Do
11
3:17
 
Paris Illinois
12
2:59
 

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