Buying a full album from a new artist is something like a trust fall. Typically you've heard one or two songs, leaving nine or 10 question marks. Breathe easy putting down cash for 'Bring You Back,' the debut from Brett Eldredge. The Paris, Ill.-born singer will catch you.

Eldredge is a vocal talent, but more importantly, he's a talented performer. He's at his best on more soulful songs like 'On and On' and 'Tell Me Where to Park.' 'One Mississippi' comes dripping with pain and heartache -- there's no hesitancy to reveal his vulnerable side on this track.

The 27-year-old helped pen most of the songs on his debut, and he makes a mark as a songwriter capable of finding new ways to express familiar country themes. "Lipstick on the coffee cup / I know I should wash it up but maybe I / just wait here for a little while / Run my fingers round the top / Where your lips were I just stop cause I / I can almost see your smile," he sings on 'One Mississippi,' the album's standout ballad.

His patience with this ballad helps separate it from others like 'Waited Too Long.' Production also helps on this song, but not every song on 'Bring You Back.' Sonically, it hops around, presenting Eldredge's voice with the slightest bit of reverb and then none, borrowing from jazz or soul and then mainstream pop. If there's one criticism to be made it's that the artist and his team dip into too many colors on the palette to paint these sounds.

The title track and 'Gotta Get There' are flat spots on an album that has no dips. Vocally, Eldredge shines when there is space to breathe between lyrics. His patience pays off later on songs like the faith ballad 'Go on Without Me.' Some may skip over 'Signs,' but the peppy ditty that name drops his hometown is a clever look at small town life.

One more rocker like 'Tell Me Where to Park' would really make this album special. Eldredge sets a tempo he never returns to by using that as an opener. The pace is exhilarating, but also worth noting are the subtle warbles and variations in his voice that make each song on 'Bring You Back' a unique moment.

3.5 Stars


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