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Boots & Whiskey

It’s Time for Luke Combs to Change It Up

todayJanuary 6, 2023 92 3 5

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So a few days ago, Luke Combs announced he’s releasing a new album on March 24, 2023 with 18 new songs.  This is incredible as his last album ‘Growin’ Up’ came out like last week.  Obviously, that’s a little facetious but follow me along on this journey I am about to take you, and I think you’ll understand or at least appreciate what I am about to say.

I want to start off with this.  I jumped into country music head first 8 years ago when I heard Luke Combs for the first time.  To me, there is not much out there in the way of “radio friendly” country music than Luke Combs, on the male artist side of things.  He has it all, a sense of humor, a great business and product sense, feel good and serious songs, and a hell of a live show.  He is everything you would want as the face of Popular Culture Country Music as we sit here to start 2023.

He’s been able to fly under the radar with controversy when it tried to come to his door during the Morgan Wallen stuff when he was in a music video with Upchurch with a Confederate Flag in it.  Which to me, isn’t a news story, but I am just a country music commentator.  To me that was a poor attempt to make the biggest country music star since Garth Brooks apologize for something.

Over the last year or so we have become good friends with some of the people that know Luke personally between Ray Fulcher and Drew Parker.  Which their music we will get to here shortly, because it matters and all ties together.  To me these two, along with Adam Church and many others who have written for and with Luke over the years, they are currently country music royalty.  This team and Wallen’s team are the pinnacle of country music right now, but let me tell you why I am worried.  Cause I am very worried.

In 2017, Luke releases ‘This One’s For You’.  Which I am pretty sure everyone reading this has listened too over a million teams.  Why wouldn’t you?  Check out this song list:

1. “Out There”
2. “Memories Are Made Of”
3. “Lonely One”
4. “Beer Can”
5. Hurricane
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”

 

There is not a song on here you can skip.  None.  Zero.  This is the best 12 song album lineup in country music in the last decade.  The sound was great, the songs ebbed and flowed perfect between each other, how could you get any better than this?

Well in June of 2018, he goes ahead and makes it even better by releasing ‘This One’s For You Too’, the deluxe edition to the 2017 version.  Check out this line up of songs:

13. “Houston, We Got a Problem”
14. “Must’ve Never Met You”
15. Beautiful Crazy
16. “A Long Way”
17. She Got the Best of Me

 

My favorite Luke song to date is on here at the number 13 spot.  Flawless tune.  Flawless.  What a hell of a debut right?  Within one year, 17 absolutely show stopping songs.  Not to mention the EP’s and what not released before this album, but we are focusing on just the album releases. Oh and did I mention, most of the tunes on this album have Ray Fulcher written all over them.

Then in November of 2019, we get ‘What You See is What You Get’.  The anticipated follow up to 2017’s ‘This One’s For You’.  Check out this lineup of tunes:

1. Beer Never Broke My Heart
2. “Refrigerator Door”
3. Even Though I’m Leaving
4. Lovin’ on You
5. “Moon Over Mexico”
6. “1, 2 Many” (featuring Brooks & Dunn)
7. “Blue Collar Boys”
8. “New Every Day”
9. “Reasons”
10. “Every Little Bit Helps”
11. “Dear Today”
12. “What You See Is What You Get”
13. Does to Me” (featuring Eric Church)
14. “Angels Workin’ Overtime”
15. “All Over Again”
16. “Nothing Like You”
17. Better Together

 

Absolutely solid list here.  This album however brings in a lot of other writers and it’s the first time we see Drew Parker with writer credits.  Don’t worry Fulcher has a few songs here too but NOTHING compared to the debut album.  This album again, was just as good that in 2020 Luke released a Deluxe version entitled ‘What You See Ain’t Always What You Get’ with these songs on it:

18. Six Feet Apart
19. Cold as You
20. “The Other Guy”
21. “My Kinda Folk”
22. Without You” (featuring Amanda Shires)
23. Forever After All

 

We see on this release, Drew Parker’s sound with “Forever After All”, you can hear how much the song writing changes in this song compared to the others and why it shot up the charts so fast.

Now we have two albums, both solid albums, and both with a very similar sound.  That’s ok for the first two and the momentum Combs has created.  But let’s talk about the 3rd studio album, ‘Growin’ Up’.

‘Growin’ Up’ came out not too long ago in 2022.  Two years after the deluxe edition of the second album and 5 years after the first release of his debut album.  Not a bad track especially with a Pandemic in there and a halt to life.  But let’s check out the song listing.  Here we go:

1.”Doin’ This

2.”Any Given Friday Night”

3:.”The Kind of Love We Make

4.”On the Other Line”

5..”Outrunnin’ Your Memory” (with Miranda Lambert)

6.”Used to Wish I Was”

7.”Better Back When”

8.”Tomorrow Me”

9.”Ain’t Far from It”

10.”Call Me”

11.”Middle of Somewhere”

12.”Going, Going, Gone”

 

The third album only has 12 songs and with the announcement of a new album in just a few months, it is safe to assume that there won’t be a deluxe addition.  We also see our boys Drew and Ray back for album number three but not as prominent as previously.  I promise, my love affair with their music will be evident as to why soon.

To me this is the worst Combs album to date.  It’s so eh to me that I have only listened to it from start to end maybe a dozen times compared to the millions on the others.  None of these songs except for “Doin’ This’ and “Outrunnin’ Your Memory (with Miranda Lambert) nothing really jumps out to me and that includes “Going, Going, Gone” which is currently climbing the charts.  This album is lackluster and it sounds identical to the first two.

I understand Luke has a sound that is distinct and we have become accustomed too, but he’s a powerhouse so he can and should be taking some more risks with his sound.  He looks up to Eric Church so much, he needs to go that route.  Dig his boots in and say ‘Fuck It’ let’s try this.  After 2 albums Church was done with “Pop Country” and it made his career.  I think Luke is much bigger after three albums then Church was after two, he can do it.  He needs to do it.  I honestly think his musical survival at the level he’s at depends on it.

If this fourth studio album sounds exactly like the others. I am not sure how much longer we can keep defending him as the face of Country Music.  I mean honestly, the same goes for Wallen, if his third album sounds identical to ‘Dangerous’, he’s in trouble too, maybe not as fast, but the same shit gets old really fast.

Which brings me to why the Fulcher/Parker thing is so important, I think to Luke’s musical success.  Take a look at the first album, a majority of those songs are written with Ray Fulcher.  Every one of those songs was a hit.  Every song on that album is incredible.

Look at the songs that have Drew Parker on them, especially “Don’ This” and “Going, Going, Gone”.  Two of the biggest songs in Combs career over the last year and a half.

Luke, stick with Ray and Drew.  We put them on the artists to watch list for 2023 for a reason.  They are your guys.  They write the best songs not only for you but for themselves.  Their EP’s and solo albums are incredible start to finish.  Write those songs, have that level of story telling and sound and change it up a bit.

I hope this upcoming album is better than the last.  I think you know that ‘Growin’ Up’ was a bust.  It’s ok, because it was.  BRING IT for number 4!

Let’s GO !!!

 

Cheers ya’ll

Written by: Jim Boots and Whiskey

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