Brett Eldredge took his reputation as a lover of Frank Sinatra-era brass, slick suits and suave ballads one step further when he crooned his way through Glow, his Christmas album complete with a booming big band. But he's taken a distinct left turn on "Somethin' I'm Good At," a raucous new single shipping to radio that dips into more mischievous territory. "Somethin' I'm Good At," written by Eldredge with Tom Douglas, is centered on a syncopated, hand-clapping beat that's as entertaining as it is unpredictable with quirky couplets ("I've got a poor sense of direction/sometimes too strong of affection for whiskey made in Lynchburg, Tennessee") that show the Illinois native's wittier inclinations.
"I really wanted to show my personality," Eldredge tells Rolling Stone Country about the song he's been performing while supporting Luke Bryan on his Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day Tour. "And to show the crazy, fun feeling of life I have and want to remind myself and everyone to have. It's a song about embracing your faults and quirks but finally finding something you are good at – which, in my case, is making a girl smile."
"Somethin' I'm Good At" came out of a writing session where, after five hours of chugging away at a ballad, Eldredge wanted to shake things up. He picked up the acoustic guitar, and proposed Douglas – with whom he also wrote the title track of his sophomore LP, Illinois – with a challenge. "I said, 'lets do something fun,'" Eldredge recalls. "'We have to write something in an hour, and we can't overthink it, we just have to have a lot of fun.' It made us write one of the craziest, out of nowhere fun songs I've ever written. I've never had so much fun recording." On the song, the spontaneity is pretty clear: Eldredge's ad libs and laughter made the final cut, including one particularly drawn-out note – listen for the moment where he sings, then howls, "town" – that came by accident.
"When we were in the studio, I couldn't remember how long the break was," he says of a midpoint in the song, "so I'm just goofing off, having fun, completely lost. I didn't know when to come back in, but it hit perfectly. That makes it fun, and that's my personality all over the place. I wanted it to feel on edge. Having a blast and saying random stuff: that's when I'm in my element, not worrying about, 'oh it needs to be this long.'"
Eldredge is currently at work on the follow-up to Illinois, after spending a good chunk of downtime over the holiday writing songs in Nashville and while on an island vacation – a trip that served as inspiration for one particular track. "It's very based off being down in the islands," he says, "and is me and a guitar, a very stripped down vocal moment telling a super heart broke tale of being lost in that world. On my Christmas record I got to put out big vocal moments, and I am really focusing on that in this record too."
"Somethin' I'm Good At" is indicative of a sense of playfulness to expect on the record, and Eldredge is not afraid to go even deeper into surprising – or signature – territory. "There are things I haven’t gotten to do yet, and there are things people already love from my previous records," he says. "I'm not afraid to push myself or do things you haven’t heard yet. We have some big love songs on there, but I'm also going crazy."
Eldredge's taste for the unpredictable extends not just to the music he makes, but the music he listens to, as well. "I listen to Bon Iver," he says. "It's kind of crazy and out there, but I love to hear something I don't expect." So does that mean we should look for "BΣat of t_e (mUSIc)" part two? Probably not, but some of those Justin Vernon high notes could seep in. " I don't know if I'll have any crazy vocal coders on there," he laughs, "but his melodies are so beautiful, I would think some of that could trickle in."