It is absolutely no secret that Luke Combs’ follow-up to debut album ‘This One’s For You’ was going to be anticipated. One of country music’s biggest releases in 2019, Combs made the two-year wait in between albums long but worth the wait. This seventeen track record embodies Combs’ ability to bring the listener right into the song with his vocal presence and songwriting capabilities. Truly on this effort, Combs missed the sophomore slump.
Right off the gates is number one single “Beer Never Broke My Heart” which gives listeners a swampy, yet throwback feel to ‘90s country music. The melody and lyrics do stay with the listener well after the song is over. This one will definitely stay on bars playlists for many years to come.
A plethora of songs feature family at the center; “Refrigerator Door” and “Even Though I’m Leaving”. The latter is the current single and details a parent and child relationship in story form going through life. It’s a tearjerker but is textbook country, always saying the things no one else will. It’s a vulnerable moment for Combs both in terms of writing and vocals, but powerful.
Speaking of vulnerability, a song called “Dear Today” is very unique. Content wise, the song captures not living life to the fullest, again a very relatable theme. Making the song stand out is how it begins with a demo tape and transitions into a more studio-produced cut. This format allows Combs to capture and play with how time has changed his thoughts and although odd at first listen, repeat listens further its credibility as the song wouldn’t be the same without it.
Combs’ music reflects ‘90s country ideas concerning instrumentation. One finds steel guitar, more rocked up guitars, bigger percussion, some mandolin to name but a few characteristics as seen in “Every Little Bit Helps”. Luke is very much a traditionalist, which helps him tell great stories and not be another up and coming country act mixing drum beats into country instrumentation. That being said, the album features a late album cut titled “All Over Again” that features a drum loop in the opening verse. While not entirely distracting, it does feel like a departure for Combs. The song even abandons the loop in favor of organic drums for the remainder of the song. It is one of the few spots on the album that features too much production. Another would be “1,2 Many” with Brooks & Dunn. That song verges on swamp rock and loses the country ideal to it to a degree. This is truly a shame as country legends and influencers, Brooks & Dunn, were featured on the track. These aren’t bad songs by any means, but would probably be best reserved for another project.
Aside from the boot stompers, Combs does have a few more passionate songs on the album such as album closer “Better Together”. The former is a comparison of images to the relationship the singer has with someone special. Combs sings “Sometimes we’re oil and water/But I wouldn’t have it any other way/And if I’m being honest/Your first and my last name/Would just sound better together/And probably always will/Like a cup of coffee and a sunrise/Sunday drives and time to kill/What’s the point of this old guitar/If it ain’t got no strings/Or pouring your heart into a song/That you ain’t gonna sing/It’s a match made up in heaven/Like good ole boys and beer/And me, as long as you’re right here”. Beautifully well written, the song will be a hit for the wedding crowd.
Whether or not Luke Combs is your favorite artist, you can’t deny how true he stays to his roots. Clocking in at 17 songs, the album is a lot but still great music all things considered. Looking at him, his music, and this album as a whole, indeed “What You See is What You Get”.
Potential Singles: “Dear Today”, “Every Little Bit Helps”, “Better Together, “Does to Me (Featuring) Eric Church”, “All Over Again”
- “Beer Never Broke My Heart”
- “Refrigerator Door”
- “Even Though I’m Leaving”
- “Lovin’ On You”
- “Moon Over Mexico”
- “1,2 Many (Featuring Brooks & Dunn)”
- “Blue Collar Boys”
- “New Every Day”
- “Every Little Bit Helps”
- “Dear Today”
- “What You See is What You Get”
- “Does to Me (Featuring Eric Church)”
- “Angels Workin’ Overtime”
- “All Over Again”
- “Nothing Like You”
- “Better Together”
Colin gives this album 8.5/10 Saints.