Two of the tracks will be instantly recognizable to country music fans in "Raymond" and "Don't Ya." The latter of these two has been a fixture on the charts and radio dial for weeks and represents the rest of the album well. What it misses in lyrical depth, it makes up in a delivery that builds a great foundation for an album that oozes with sex appeal. Deep full rough voices have that capability and Eldredge pulls it off well. "Raymond" dented the charts last year and was severely underrated at the time. The heavy track about an old-folks home orderly taking the place of a dementia-suffering woman's son is an outstanding message and Eldredge delivers on it perfectly. It marks one just one of the highlights of the album.
The stand-out track comes when Eldredge strips it down to piano, strings and some light percussion on "One Mississippi." It only seems appropriate that his perfect soulful and bluesy deliver is on a song about "standing in the wreckage of love" in Jackson, Mississippi.
On "Signs," Eldredge eschews the current trend of celebrating the overcooked rural stereotypes of country living and instead celebrates his hometown through specifics of town signage- the good, the bad and the ugly. It's a town still celebrating their 1963 State Football Championship, celebrating faith in gospel park concerts, celebrating a small-town couple getting married, celebrating local election winners and celebrating patriotism and sacrifice with a service at the local American Legion. It's a great tribute that will "hit you in the heart and not just the eyes" without all the dirt road stuff that has jumped the shark on radio.
Most of the tracks are themed on love won and love lost and it would have been nice to have had Eldredge tackle a couple more inspirationals or heavier songs like on "Raymond." But as debut albums go, this one is a winner.
Four Stars Out Of Five