We probably all should have seen this coming. Joining the ranks of his contemporaries like Morgan Wallen, Zach Bryan and Bailey Zimmerman when it comes to modern country stars finding ways to send their streaming numbers into the stratosphere, Luke Combs has chosen to abandon what is now manifesting as the second half of last summer. growing. Now, with six more songs than his predecessor, Combs is joining the trend of releasing as many tracks as possible to listeners in a short time. When Drake started putting out 25-track projects, we never thought country singers would be the ones to drive this. to its limits. Still, of all those artists, Combs might have the most heart and put in the most effort to make sure we don’t get too much padding. He’s known for writing songs that go straight to the heart of an emotional issue with vivid specificity, and something about his rough, roaring voice that has the capacity for vulnerability in him sells it too. While there may be a bit more to take away on this one, it’s still a truly solid set of tunes from the superstar.
The opening track, appropriately titled “Growin’ Up and Gettin’ Old,” bridges the gap between the two projects and lets us know that a different theme is in store. With a little less partying and working through relationship problems and a little more memories and life lessons, Combs begins to tell us about making more careful decisions and the hangovers that hit him a little harder as he gets older. steps up in age with some powerful, resonant low tones that eventually builds into one of his classic choruses, hitting us with the same gritty high note over and over again. It has a bit of a generic sound to it for Combs, but it certainly contains some nice sentiments. “Hannah Ford Road,” on the other hand, feels like the only time on the project, for whatever reason, that Combs it’s not telling a deeply personal story. Singing about a local highway as if in a relationship with it, there’s something about him vaguely cars 2-Central wisdom about it that doesn’t quite connect.
“Back 40 Back” is where we see his true strengths. Combs’ story of the big city expanding into the places where he grew up, replacing his favorite farms and churches with fast food restaurants, is told with such earnestness that it will sink deep even if you’re not a country boy, and that’s because it takes a while to recognize the other side. Over a calmer, more contemplative instrumental, Combs notes that the progress can be good: It’s not a black-and-white track, but it still gives him a little pang of sadness. That excitement translates into what could easily be a Springsteen stadium song on “You Found Yours.” I mean, it’s got the bright, resonant guitar chords, and it’s kind of cheesy, but for all the right reasons. With four poignant verses about knowing you’ve made the right choices that become more personal and important as the song progresses, as the narrator transitions from pets and cars to starting a family, anyone should be ready to sing along with him. “Wow-oh” Hook.
Combs’ real power that his contemporaries lack is being able to legitimately thrill this listener about the role of a stool in society in the song “The Beer, the Band and the Barstool.” Putting their own spin on the classic story of the heartbroken guy at the bar, the titular group of “friends” manage to support him in his own way. He’s the kind of personification that would make an English teacher proud, and the fact that Combs reverts to quieter tones at more times makes him sound like he’s emotionally willing to comfort this poor soul. “See Me Now” offers another clever lyrical twist, as Combs remembers his late grandparents by saying how proud they were he it would be instead if they could see him applying all the lessons he was taught. Country is all about storytelling because there isn’t much of an instrumental for me to comment on, once again the slider guitar does its job here, and on this track, it succeeds. “Joe” alternately finds Combs trying to write the best song for everyone and missing the mark. Joe’s role as a recovering alcoholic is where the power comes from, but most of the song is made up of platitudes and life lessons. The sentiment of “Still,” a toast to the kind of undying love that will persist through any trouble, is best expressed on the single “Love You Anyway,” a more passionate, heartfelt violin melody without the overly upbeat tones. . or lyrical clichés.
Back-to-back tracks “A Song Was Born” and “My Song Will Never Die” are very complementary, the former finding Combs playing some true stories about where country legends were when they wrote classic songs before giving way to a tune about how Combs will linger long after his death. Combs once again shows just how good he is by delivering a soulful line in the husky, stoic voice with a heart of gold behind it. from somewhere other than my chest” is a perfect opening line. “Take You With Me” finds him tapping into the emotions again by reminiscing about some good times with his father, teaching him things, and even sneaking out of some activities mom wouldn’t approve of, before wishing he could be a good father to his own son, while ” Where The Wild Things Are” apparently it’s not about Combs’ real life, but it certainly makes him feel that way. On the surface, it’s a story about a reckless older brother having fun, living life, and doing crazy things, so when the tragic twist comes to the end, the message is even more powerful.
Near the bottom of the track listing is a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” While Combs doesn’t take much chances with it, her respect for the song is clear and it’s fun to hear some vibrant tones behind it. Before a few more shows of force to close things out, we see Combs taking his lyrical specificity almost too far with the song “Tattoo on a Sunburn.” The story of lingering pain after a breakup on summer vacation, it’s strangely wordy in places and a bit of an odd image to construct an entire song on. “5 Leaf Clover” is endearing and wholesome, as Combs continues to be baffled by his luck and popularity, while “Fox in the Henhouse” finds him going completely outside the law and offering some Stapleton-esque soul. “The Part” is a fitting closing sentiment as Combs ages, as he sings about beginning to find more meaning off stage than on it.
Considering the two albums together, Combs has actually put out 30 tracks in the last ten months that would come together in a nice whole, that’s something to be commended. While every country star is trying to convince people that they’re still a normal good guy like them, it’s more believable coming from this guy.
Favorite Songs: The Beer, the Band and the Stool, Back 40 Back, 5 Leaf Clover, My Song Will Never Die, You Found Yours
Least Favorite Track: Hannah Ford Road