Luke Combs' crazy two-year ride off one of Nashville's most fiscally and critically successful debut albums in ages, This One's For You, shifts lanes on Nov. 8 with the arrival of What You See is What You Get (Columbia Nashville/River House Artists).
While the bar's certainly high coming off an album with five consecutive number one singles, WYSIWYG offers its own heaping helping of potential hits with an equally appetizing side of heart-felt story-songs.
The album starts with monster hit "Beer Never Broke My Heart" and other cuts off The Prequel EP, which arrived back in June. Those five songs set the tone for 12 new cuts concocted by Combs and his go-to producer, Scott Moffatt. Potential radio hits abound among the fresh material, with the most obvious being "All Over Again," which blends the '90s throwback formula that already works for Combs with the smooth sensuality of Keith Urban and Old Dominion.
Another potential hit, "Angels Workin' Overtime" puts some drive in Combs' country and should further endear him to the nostalgic fans already excited about the beer-soaked Brooks & Dunn team-up "1, 2 Many."
Even if he continues to own the charts, Combs' legacy as a marquee country music star hinges on whip-smart lyrics that'll connect fans to these songs long after they're out of commercial radio rotation. "We were just river kids, picking up stones like David did," sings Combs in "Blue Collar Boys." Just like that, a guy known for carefree songs about chugging beer masterfully blends the small-town roots referenced in so many hits with the genre's longstanding knack for Biblical analogies.
Other examples of the strong wordplay scattered throughout the album include the line about being a third-string dreamer on a second place team in the Eric Church collaboration "Does to Me." There's also the title track's perspective on Combs' everyday people image: "I'm an easy read, but I'm not an open book" and "I'm a walking contradiction, far from mint condition."
The storytelling abilities heard on recent single and album cut "Even Though I'm Leaving" permeate "New Every Day," "Nothing Like You" and piano-led closer "Better Together." Each selection reminds us that Combs and his team of songwriting collaborators, featuring Jordan Brooker, Thomas Archer, James McNair, Tyler King, Barry Dean and Jonathan Singleton, excel at party songs and pity parties.
What You See is What You Get Track List:
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 Everyday"
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"