Brett Eldredge all but reinvented his sound with 2020’s Sunday Drive, leaving behind overly polished mainstream country for nuanced story-songs. To his credit, he’s not only sticking with the vibe of that album but building on it. His new song “Holy Water,” surprise-released on Christmas Eve to coincide with Eldredge’s association with the season, is a grand piano number that shows off the Chicago-area native’s range. It’s decidedly not a holiday song, but it does paint in similar tones of hope and redemption.
“Holy Water” pairs Eldredge with producer Dave Cobb, who has overseen live-on-the-floor sessions by everyone from Chris Stapleton to Slash. It proves to be the right partnership: Eldredge sings easily and naturally here, with only piano joining him at first. “I’ve been on the verge of breaking / couldn’t find my way out of here,” he sings in the first verse, an acknowledgment of hard times that’s underscored by the photo of Eldredge accompanying the single. The vocalist (who recently postponed shows after testing positive for Covid) looks red-eyed, exhausted and dejected. He is a man in need of a lift.
He finds it by the bridge, when the ballad explodes into a mix of choir voices, sustained guitar notes, and throttling drums. “You are my holy water / you are my river deep,” he belts in the call-and-answer chorus, “wash me away and take me higher / ‘cause something about your love just sets me free.”
Eldredge wrote “Holy Water” with Mark Trussell and frequent collaborator Heather Morgan. He says it’ll appear on a new album due in 2022. For now, consider it an early gift from the guy known as “Mr. Christmas.”
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