by Ryan Cox ’18
In less than a year, Luke Combs has not just carved out a niche for himself in Nashville, he’s blown one out of the side of the mountain that is country music.
The 27-year-old from Asheville, North Carolina brings a sound to country music that is well-known. Following the October 2016 debut of his number one single “Hurricane,” Combs released his first album, This One’s for You, and a second single off the album, “When It Rains It Pours,” is currently rising on the charts.
Combs’ website describes his album as a “set list full of songs that are true, authentic, and platform his signature modern throwback sound.”
Unlike other country artists, such as Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett, Combs rides the current trend of leaning on the style of older artists from the ‘80s and ‘90s, fusing them with contemporary trends by country crossover artists.
While this style seems to be a growing trend in country music, there’s something about Combs’ style that stands out amongst other new artists.
Rather than being a modern artist, who peppers in some country flavor, Combs does the opposite. His sound is country at its core, and while some tracks on This One’s for You tip their hat to pop and electronic influence, they cannot be classified as anything but country music.
According to Combs, this has to do with the way he listened to country music growing up. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Combs recalls that, while he grew up listening to country music in the ‘90s, he gave up on the genre as a teenager…until he discovered Eric Church. “That was my knowledge base,” he said. “The Nineties and Eric Church. I missed almost 10 years, so there’s a gap, and I think that’s where the sound came from.” As a strong baritone-tenor, much of the sound on This One’s for You is similar to Justin Moore or Chris Young, who both have a similar mix of contemporary and classic country in their music.
Another factor that separates Combs from other rising artists is his image. While others try to develop the image of a country entertainer (think Luke Bryan or Tim McGraw), Combs presents himself as the same regular guy who first picked up a guitar six years ago. “I’ve always been a super regular guy,” he told Rolling Stone, “I think there’s kind of a comfortability with me onstage– and I think my cool factor is not having one. I’m not extra cool or extra different. I’m just an honest dude, not trying to be anything other than who I am.”
Combs is currently opening for Brantley Gilbert on his Devil Don’t Sleep tour, along with Tucker Beathard. His next local headline show is Nov. 16 at the House of Blues in Boston. His album, This One’s for You, is available online, in-store, and streaming.