With mainstream country veering further into pop music these days, there is less stress on sheer vocal talent, trading in mood-creating and lyrics for beats and rhythms. Brett Eldredge, now on his third, non-holiday album (2017’s self-titled), often mixes the best of both worlds. His singles might not reflect his commitment to continuing country legacy, but his deep cuts are entrenched in both the past and present. If you need more convincing, just check him out on the road or tune into one of many primetime performance slots. His live presentation is often embedded in storytelling, never compromising art for the sake of mass appeal.
Below, we have curated Eldredge’s 10 best performances, ranging from concert footage to acoustic sessions and TV appointments.
10 Best Performances From Brett Eldredge:
“One Mississippi” (2014, PNC Bank Center)
Doubtful about Eldredge’s talent? We give you Exhibit A: this fan-shot concert footage of one of his best ballads to-date. As he longs after a former lover, he struggles to let go and move on. “Maybe I’ll wait here for a little while,” he weeps, looking around him at all the things that remind him of her. When he hits the high notes on the bridge, you’ll have nothing but tears in your eyes and chill son your arm. Guaranteed.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (2015, Skull’s Rainbow Room)
Channeling Frank Sinatra, Eldredge delivers a Christmas classic as smooth as a shot of whiskey. He’s irrefutably one of the best singers of the new generation and goes severely underrated for his talent. Following “Raymond,” his single choices have been sketchy, except for solid entries like “Mean to Me.” He works best in the jazz/soul lane, as he does so magically in this live performance at Skull’s Rainbow Room.
“Something I’m Good At” (2017, Grand Ole Opry)
“I finally found something I’m good at,” he cooes on the hook of his 2017 lead single, seemingly drawing lines between his pick-up/flirt game and his admirable singing career. From the Opry’s powerful acoustics and Eldredge’s rich tone, the pop-country tune gallops at a tremendous pace, and he doesn’t miss a beat. He hits the blustering crescendo masterfully, and it’s evident he’s having way too much fun.
“Raymond” (2013, Live at Thunder 106)
If a song can stand on its own two feet, acoustically, then you have a monster song. Eldredge’s reflection on a woman with Alzheimer’s is stunningly emotional. “She goes on about the weather, how she can’t believe it’s already 1943 / She calls me Raymond, and that’s alright by me,” he sings, detailing his work as a janitor at Asbury Hills, a local nursing home. It’s the kind of story-song which makes country music the great format it has become to be, even if radio is utterly deceiving.
“Wanna Be That Song” (2016, Front & Center series)
There’s not denying ballads are his bread and butter. Here, he stirs up all kinds of emotions. With his trusty band of musicians supporting him, Eldredge unwraps a story of desire, as he wants to be the “soundtrack” of his affection’s life. It’s a clever flip of the classic country theme, of letting your crush know the most intimate of thoughts, and the singer sells every moment of the song.
“Mean to Me” (2015, The Warner Sound Sessions)
Acoustic and airy, his turn during a set at Warner Music Nashville folds comfortably and charmingly over Eldredge’s thick alto. With only a couple guitars and soft percussion coming to his aid, the arrangement lets him free from the constraints of a full band unlike many of his other performances. The gentle ebb and flow of the melody give him a moment to really breathe and inhabit the story. Swoon-worthy, indeed.
“Drops of Jupiter,” Train (Joy Week 2017, The Bobby Bones Show)
Patrick Monahan’s similar musical proficiency fits Eldredge like a glove. The country singer slides across the starry-eyed melody easily, molded to his well-worn romantic streak. Backed by acoustic guitar and light percussion, the performance is snuggly and warm. It’s seemingly a random cover, but for Joy Week, in which radio programmer Bobby Bones sheds light on spreading cheer to his millions of listeners, it ultimately makes sense.
“Don’t Ya” (2014, Bing Lounge)
Don’t even try not singing along to this. Don’t lie. As his first No. 1 hit, which did take its sweet time climbing to the summit, encapsulates Eldredge’s charming, aw-shucks persona, woven together with a pop-lite melody and one infectious, syrupy-sweet vocal. His acoustic moments are among his most memorable, and this one takes the cake. The bubbly cheers from the crowd are certainly the barometer here.
“Georgia on My Mind,” Ray Charles cover (2013)
You can’t really step into Ray Charles’ shows without stumbling, but Eldredge comes pretty close to living up to the gold standard. His sometimes scruffy-voiced delivery, as marvelous here, is enrapturing, and due credit must be paid to the way he rises so effortlessly into his falsetto.
“Castaway” (2017, Airwaves Sessions)
Eldredge matures like a fine wine. He has always been one of today’s best-skilled performers, but there’s something even more urgent about his choices now. On this self-titled deep cut, he inhabits the song’s anguish unlike anything else he’s ever performed. The acoustic guitar is an apt and satisfying thread line for the melody, which sees the singer displaying is full range, from the bellowing bass to his heavenly reach.