If you’re a record executive, and you have a rising star in the country-music scene who has a rugged – but non-threatening – handsomeness about him, and a pair of baby-blues, what do you do to maximise on his burgeoning chart and commercial success? Whack him in a tux and have him release a Christmas album, and throw in a duet with a pop starlet for good measure. Anyone expecting Brett Eldredge’s third album, Glow, to be a country record is going to be in for a surprise, for not only has the 30-year-old released a Christmas album, it is also a homage to the likes of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra.
From the outset, with Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, there isn’t a country twang or slide to be heard, replaced with the brass of a jazz ensemble ensuring a lounge atmosphere is established upfront and, as soon as Eldredge sets in with his croon, it’s difficult not to think of Crosby, Martin, and Sinatra. Meghan Trainor steps-up to the plate on Baby, It’s Cold Outside, lending her vocals to proceedings, and the combination of hers and Eldredge’s voices work surprisingly well, especially with the song’s vocal counterpoints.
Eldredge has stated that he has sought “to give a tip of the hat to the ones that came before me” – namely Crosby, Martin, and Sinatra – but in doing so he has played it too close to what had already been done, producing a record that sounds more like mimicry than an inspired act of tribute. The titular Glow, as the only original composition, introduces a touch of character to the album, but it doesn’t particularly standout. White Christmas is subjected to an intriguing downbeat treatment, while Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas takes on a wistful tone and features an excellent guitar solo.
Silent Night demonstrates Eldredge’s strengths and weaknesses as a singer, his vibrato is quite pleasing but he falls flat when reaching for some of the high notes. Overall, Glow puts in a decent showing, but by so closely adhering to the template laid down decades ago it ensured it won’t be going down history as one of the great Christmas albums.