Luke Combs is the definition of a rising star and there’s no surprise he’s been on many ‘Artists to Watch’ lists. At 27, he only picked a guitar up six years ago and has already won a CMT award for Breakthrough Video of the Year for his first single from ‘This One’s For You’, ‘Hurricane’. He moved to Nashville less than three years ago and if you’re a regular listener of country radio you’ll be sure to have heard of him. His deep soulful voice, witty lyrics, and rock-inspired guitar solos make for an electric, enjoyable, and exciting combination. ‘This One’s For You’ is the debut album from a man who is going places.
The album opens with ‘Out There’, a song which beautifully displays Combs’ deep, seductive tones. The big chorus and heavy electric guitars give you a real sense of Combs’ style of Country. You can feel he’s inspired by other genres such as rock and it makes for a stadium-filler-feeling as the opening track. For me, it definitely draws comparisons with Jason Aldean, who you can imagine happily selecting this track for his next album, which shows the calibre of Comb’s song writing- especially for a first album. It’s a deep, haunting, and beautiful opener for the album.
The next track takes a much softer approach, ‘That’s What Memories Are Made Of’. The song is very nostalgic, with a summery, easy-going feel to it. It shows you Combs’ softer side and it makes you want to sit in the sun a crack open a beer. It has sing along written all over it, and you can imagine singing the ‘whoa’ right with him at one of his shows. A simple yet effective song. ‘A first taste of freedom after high school, Breaking hearts, curfews and mamma’s rules.’
Track three is ‘Lonely One’. A song in which Combs sympathises with a heartbroken girl alone at the bar. Here Combs beautifully sings a classic heartbreak song but with a big punchy chorus and catchy lyrics. Musically, this isn’t a sad song, which makes it much more enjoyable. This song feels as though Combs is singing directly to you, especially with his emotive tones. Lyrically, Combs is big on ballads, but he ups the tempo musically and turns them on their head. So you can enjoy a traditionally sad country song, without feeling all that sad.
Next up is ‘Beer Can’, a track which kicks the album into the party mood which is a frequent feeling for the rest of the album. Combs has created a Blue Collar Anthem, which follows the traditional theme in country music of kicking back and enjoying vacation time with a few beers. Lyrically, it’s clever, whilst being a fun, cheeky, party song. ‘I’m gonna throw back a couple and, keep ’em glued to my right hand, any flavor, size or brand. Until the point where I can’t stand. No nothing picks me up like a beer can.’ Musically it’s light, upbeat, and is unmistakably a country song and it won’t fail to put a smile on your face.
‘Hurricane’, the album’s first single, takes the album back to a darker place. This song is very radio-friendly; it’s catchy, memorable, and shows the power and strength of Combs’ voice. It’s a big song, with bold guitar solos and heavy percussion. This song has been everywhere for the last couple of months, including landing the top spot on Country Airplay, and it was a smart choice to re-release it as the lead single of the album. It screams ‘I have arrived’. Again, Combs’ loves a heartbreak song, but puts his own bold twist on it. One listen and you’ll be hooked.
Song number six is ‘One Number Away’. It’s a nice contrast of soft and tough and musically this song has less of a focus on electric guitar and percussion, which gives it a different feel to the other dark tracks on the album. It also gives Combs’ an opportunity to show more of his vocal range. It’s a good, solid song. ‘But everywhere I go I see your face, In my brain, dial it up, everything I want to say, But I’m still one number away.’
Next up, another party track: ‘Don’t Tempt Me’. This song really resonates with me, and it may be something to do with being the same age as Combs, but I love the idea of a song about being able to handle your boring responsibilities but that you haven’t forgotten how to go out and have a good time. This song makes me want to get up and dance and forget about all of my troubles. Combs has a brilliant ability to conjure up images in your mind and his cheeky, fun-loving attitude makes this song a memorable one. If you’re having a bad day, then this is a good one to crank up loud. And maybe try having a beer with breakfast too…
Reading the title, you would think ‘When It Rains It Pours’ would be a sad song, but it’s the exact opposite. Combs’ tells of having your heartbroken, but then continually getting lucky and winning at life. It continues the fun-loving feeling, but Combs’ voice is a real standout in this song. You feel like you’re on the ride of a lifetime with him as he wins holidays, games of golf, and ultimately his song on the radio. ‘Well I’ve been on a hell of a redneck road for three weeks now. And it all started on the day that she walked out.’ It’s a hopeful, if slightly silly song, but a brilliant choice for the next single.
‘This One’s For You’, the album’s title track, slows things back down again. It’s a sentimental song, thanking everyone for sticking by him through the good times and the bad. Combs hasn’t been shy about experiencing dark times in his life, where he hid away and played computer games all day, and this song thanks his loved ones for their patience and love. This is as close as he gets to a ballad on the whole album, and he keeps the music simple so the focus is all on the lyrics. ‘I told you all that I’d write you a song, Pour my heart into the melody to keep you singing along.’
The albums follows on with another sentimental song, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’. This song shows Combs’ ability to make his lyrics rhythmical and he really creates a strong tempo with his vocals. I can imagine this being a big song when performed live with it’s larger-than-life choruses. It’s a the-grass-isn’t-always-greener song, but again, he’s sentimental without making the music sad. As a result, it becomes one of the big sing along tracks of the album.
‘I Got Away With You’ is as close to musically sad that you will get with the album, but it results in a beautiful song. It will make you want to hold on to the person you love and belt it right along with Combs. He sings of being caught with everything else he’s done wrong or shouldn’t have, and that now he’s waiting for his too-good-for-him love to be taken away too. ‘Like I strolled out the gates of Alcatraz, And I walked in the Louvre, And the Mona Lisa’s hanging in my house, I bust out of Buckingham with the crown jewels, And I got away with you.’ It’s a beautiful song, a real standout on the album. Also, maybe it’s a British thing, but he sure makes the word ‘Buckingham’ sound much prettier than we do!
The final song on the album is ‘Honky Tonk Highway’. It’s a fun and playful way to finish out the album and leaves it on a really good note. It has a real Rock’n’Roll inspired feel to it and is perfect for listening to in a Honky Tonk. It slowly builds up with the music reflecting his sultry tones but breaks out big for the choruses. It is a genuine feel good song which tells of the party life of a country singer. It’s fun and memorable song with a retro feel.
1. Out There
2. That’s What Memories Are Made Of
3. Lonely One
4. Beer Can
6. One Number Away
7. Don’t Tempt Me
8. When It Rains It Pours
9. This One’s For You
10. Be Careful What You Wish For
11. I Got Away With You
12. Honky Tonk Highway
This is a brilliant album, and honestly, I find it hard to believe that it’s his debut. He has a soulful, seasoned country voice which is a real standout. For me, he has a voice that rivals Chris Young, Jason Aldean, and Chris Stapleton, and if you’re a fan of any of them then this is definitely an album to check out. There’s not one bad song on the album and there doesn’t feel like any songs have been included just to fill space on the album. I feel that listening to this album you really know who Luke Combs is and what kind of music he wants to put out there. He also co-wrote every single song on the album, and I feel that it shows. The album has depth and variety without being tragic and sad. For me, this is a real contender for the best album of the year so far and I am expecting big things for Luke Combs. So Luke, when you come over to the UK I’ll definitely be buying a ticket to your show.
Don’t Tempt Me, When It Rains It Pours, I Got Away With You, Honky Tonk Highway
Six Shooter Rating
9 out of 10