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There"s a perception this days (not entirely unfounded) that country music rewards its male performers for following a particular formula. The mix of gleaming, rhythmic optimal 40 hooks, flirtatious frat-party swagger and small-town backdrops has actually served as a sample in the industry, largely since it works., and also artists who helped lay out the template, like Luke Bryan and also Sam Hunt, have contributed mightily come the expansion of country"s millennial fanbase. (That approach is hardly distinctive to country; sticking v what"s functioning is a guiding principle throughout the well-known music landscape.)

For Luke Combs, though, demonstrating present pop fluency and a connection with the sturdy contributions of vault generations of nation performers aren"t mutually exclusive propositions. The 27-year-old child of a maintenance worker and also a prison person resources staffer in north Carolina didn"t choose up the guitar until college, but he"s easily emerging as one of country"s leading brand-new contenders. Top top This One"s for You, a debut album written and also recorded before significant labels come knocking, the singer and songwriter proves self to it is in an astute college student of both the genre"s trends and also conventions.


Combs easily bridges the two through his understand of Music heat songcraft (he"s deft in ~ finding new life in acquainted idioms) and also his instinct for humanizing songs through his performances. His determination to at least co-write his songs dates back to the disappointed he feel upon learning that many of the genre"s giants didn"t generate their own material. In Eric Church, who attended the same school, Appalachian State, about a dozen years ahead that him, Combs uncovered a design template for channeling a distinctive persona right into every aspect of the an innovative process.

In his an initial single, "Hurricane," i m sorry climbed come No. 1 at nation radio a lot much more rapidly than songs native udigitalrecordersreview.orgoven acts commonly do, he leans right into his recalcitrant drawl even as he executes lilting syncopation over a lumbering drum loop. In "One Number Away," one more song around post-breakup vulnerability, he delivers sulky, circling, R&B-schooled licks in his rugged timbre. In the muscled-up boogie "Honky Tonk Highway," he sings "We"re gonna load it in, crank it come ten, whiskey shots it spins 2 a.m. And off to one more show," tumbling from hard-swinging phrasing into a punchy triplet, a relocate right the end of Brooks & Dunn"s beforehand "90s, arena-rocking honky-tonk playbook.

The truth that Combs is obtaining somewhere appropriate now, at a time when even male nation stars are organized to a gym-toned, groomed and also airbrushed standard, is a sign that the success that a burly, mustache singer like Chris Stapleton may have helped develop a space for male performers whose appeal isn"t predicated on quickly packaged heartthrob potential. Combs projects a many other attributes that have actually been largely missing from the country mainstream the late, favor hearty emotionalism (see: his experienced, empathetic bartender supplying reassurance to a heartsick day-drinker in "Lonely One") and earthy, self-deprecating wit.

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"Beer Can" is a blue-collar drinking song, peppered v knowingly cornball native play. In "When It rains It Pours," Combs take away on the duty of the affable, freshly dumped loser that can"t believe his great luck. Combs puts the guy"s bewilderment across with a wink. "I just spent five bucks in ~ the Moose society raffle, winner a supplied four-wheeler and three complimentary passes for me and two of mine buddies come play a ring of golf," that marvels, setup up the punchline: "And i ain"t gotta view my ex-future mother-in-law anymore."

Combs strikes a more reverential tone on This One"s for You"s location track, a red-blooded ballad the serves together a toast to his folks, friends and fans. That type of expression that gratitude is central to the relationships between country performers and also their audiences. And also if anybody has actually what it takes to construct a big, broad, generation-spanning audience, it"s Combs.