fri 14/06/2024

CD: Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get

CD: Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get

Country’s straight-talking golden boy returns with his sprawling sophomore offering

No frills: Luke Combs is back for another round

With US number one singles and Grammys coming out of his ears, a record-breaking streak at the top for debut album This One’s For You and collaborations with country big-timers aplenty, Luke Combs is riding high.

The North Carolina-born toast of Nashville (he was also inducted into the Grand Ole Opry this summer) keeps things going with second album What You See Is What You Get, a rambling, occasionally brilliant collection of drinking songs, lovelorn ballads and earnest tributes to the working man.

The first five songs will already be familiar to fans – they made up The Prequel, a massive-selling EP which was released this past June, and the best track of those by far is the opener, the foot-stomping no-nonsense single 'Beer Never Broke My Heart’. In a similar vein is the irresistible, rollicking ‘1, 2 Many’, featuring nineties country superstars Brooks & Dunn and a closing holler of ‘come on – that’s a COUNTRY song!’. Later there’s another collaboration with a country big name, on ‘Does to Me’, featuring Eric Church: unfortunately, Church’s honeyed, young Willie Nelson-esque tones don’t really get much of a look-in. As it happens, Combs and Church are both headlining next year’s Country 2 Country – the festival giant that's nudged the likes of Ashley McBryde, Carrie Underwood and Cam into the UK's country spotlight and is doing the same for Combs.

There's a lot to love with What You See Is What You Get, but the problem is that there are so. Many. Songs. Seventeen of them, to be precise. Only two breach the four-minute mark – the honky tonkin’ ‘Angels Workin’ Overtime’ and the lyrically dextrous break-up tale ‘Every Little Bit Helps’ – so the album’s running time is not exactly monstrous (just under an hour), but the sheer number of tracks does mean that listeners might find themselves slightly worn down by the end. It’s a bit of a shame, because there are some truly cracking songs here, expertly crafted, hook-laden belters and bourbon-drenched stories of heartbreak among them – they just needed a little pruning and a little less indulgence.

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