by Stephanie L. Carlin
Last week, Luke Combs visited the House of Blues to a sold out crowd. He was accompanied by Ray Fulcher, Josh Phillips and Farren Rachels on his Don’t Tempt Me With A Good Time Tour. If any of these names don’t sound familiar to you then great, you’re where I was a few months ago when I knew nothing about modern country music.
I’ve grown accustomed to country, though. It’s like I’ve repeatedly stated, I feel as though a person’s musicianship is only magnified when they listen to everything that they possibly can. I know there’s a lot of disdain for country music in some parts of Berklee, but I’m still going to talk about it because, firstly, it’s such a giant market, and secondly, there are still talented musicians that work up their way up the ranks to be at the level of great country artists. Even in Boston with a huge indie scene, Luke Combs can still pull off a sold out show, so I think his music is worth a try.
I feel that this album is a perfect example of how country music production has evolved. Look no further than the first track, “Out There,” which lyrically, is a little typical. Just a song about going out and enjoying life. There are so many effects on the instruments, especially the voice. If you listen carefully, you can find so many delays and compression in his voice alone, but it doesn’t alienate the track. The effects only magnify his voice, as if he were an electric guitar. These effects, most likely found in underground indie or hip-hop, are being used in a country song which, ten or fifteen years ago, would be unheard of. It’s nice to see in “Out There,” as well as “Lonely One” and “Honky Tonk Highway,” music production that it’s trying to be something else but, at the same time, feel like something new.
Still, I can’t say that for all of the tracks. There are two hits from this album, “Hurricane” and “When It Rains It Pours.” If I’m being honest, I find it interesting that these are the hits out of this album compared to other songs. “When It Rains It Pours” makes sense. It’s catchy. It’s fun. Just a tad misogynistic, but that’s all pop and country nowadays. And it’s hilarious compared to what has been seen on country charts lately (cue the boy-band/creeper stylings of Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan). But “Hurricane” is typical. It’s country, but it sounds like all his other tracks and the tracks that are being played on mainstream stations. Also, it’s a story that’s been sung before. It’s not really unique like some of the other songs. In the album, it fits really well, but on its own, it’s what I considered a hit. In fact, I listen to the album before I find out about the hits. I knew about “When It Rains It Pours,” but “Hurricane” was apparently more popular at the time the album came out (even though now, “When It Rains It Pours” is #1 on the Billboard country charts so there’s that).
If there was one thing I could take away from listening to this album, it’s that it’s not nuanced. But I don’t think Luke was trying to be. I think he was just trying to be himself and let the listener have a few good songs to listen to when they want the semester to end and summer to start again.