There are moments on Luke Combs’ debut project that I think “Oh, no. This again.” Take for instance, when I hear the truck motor revving up on the opening title cut. One keeps reading about the fact that “Bro-Country,” as it is known, is losing a little bit of its’ luster. I felt it again when I heard the can opening up on “Beer Can,” or the crowd-like chant at the beginning of “Memories Are Made Of This.” In each song, you kinda get the feeling that what you’re about to hear is what has been done before – and before – and before.
Then, he sings, and I drop any pre-conceived notions that I might have had.
Combs has been setting the Country Music landscape afire as of late with his chart-topping hit “Hurricane.” The song is a perfect marriage of production and vocals. And, make no mistake about it, vocals are one thing that Combs has in his favor. You get the feeling that no producer had to coach him to be Country. It’s something that is as natural as the beauty in the mountains around his native North Carolina.
Once you get past the opening of “Out There,” his natural twang will draw you in. It’s a mixture of Southern Rock with a little bit of the range of a Craig Morgan thrown in for good measure. The song itself isn’t anything special, but Combs sells it. His personality likewise takes over on the nostalgic slant of “Memories.” Two tracks in, and you realize that Luke Combs is a keeper.
He demonstrates his flair as a songwriter several times throughout this collection, with compositions such as “Lonely One,” “Be Careful What You Wish For,” and the radio friendly appeal of “One Number Away.” He shows a little bit of a Brad Paisley influence on the whimsical vibe of “When It Rains It Pours,” where one bad event leads to a sequence of events that make you wonder if things aren’t actually going your way after all.
Perhaps Combs’ greatest trait as a wordsmith comes in the more sentimental fare here. “This One’s For You” and the romantic “I Got Away With You” both have plenty of charm, and a sincerity that make you realize that Luke Combs is the real deal. But…
Maybe, just maybe, I had my mind made up before I listened to This One’s For You that it was going to be one way. Of course, as a critic / reviewer / journalist, I would never admit that. But, I will say that Luke Combs has effectively shown me up. So, there! In fact, I’m going to go celebrate that fact with another listen. This album is that good!