Luke Combs really is at the top of his game, quality-wise, right now. As successful as the first two albums were, his recent releases such as “Tomorrow Me” and the chart-topping, autobiographical “Doin’ This,” are a level above in terms of lyrical prowess and production standard, as you would expect for Country Music’s biggest star.
With Growin’ Up, which coincides with the birth of his first child, marriage, and his transition into mega-stardom, Luke Combs has matured into a stadium-level Country Music great, who very few can match right now for consistency. It’s an album that meets all expectations, which were always going to be high.
One of the criticisms from the minority of Combs sceptics over the years has been the over-used ‘Luke Combs formula.’ That doesn’t change a great deal here, but that’s a sign of an artist who has fully grasped what his fans crave, and he continues to deliver in abundance. From start to finish, you’ll find the roll-the-windows-down anthems like “Any Given Friday Night” and “Ain’t Far From It,” as well as the more melodic “The Kind Of Love We Make,” and the phenomenally trad-country duet with Miranda Lambert, “Outrunnin’ Your Memory.” There’s something for every kind of Luke Combs listener, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Growin’ Up is an album absolutely full of potential radio smashes. Literally any of these songs could soar into a #1 spot – not just because it’s Luke Combs, but because they’re all top drawer, radio-ready recordings. However, probably a wise bet would be “Used To Wish I Was,” which is straight out of the Luke Combs #1 handbook, written with Deric Ruttan and Jonathan Singleton. A ‘proud of my roots’ anthem for anyone feeling like they need to fit in, it’s got the feel of a huge commercial hit. The same could be said for the tongue-in-cheek fishing-lover’s tune, “On The Other Line,” which features some fantastic lyrical wit from Thomas Archer, Dan Isbell, James McNair and Randy Montana, and could easily be a future single.
Luke saves the best until last with the phenomenal “Going, Going, Gone,” a heart-wrenching perspective of a lost love, delivered in Luke’s impeccable storytelling style. Written alongside Ray Fulcher and James McNair, this is right up there with the likes of “Even Though I’m Leaving” and “Forever After All” as one of the very best in the Luke Combs catalogue, and showcases the softer, more heart-felt side, which is what Luke does best. The big anthems will inevitably steal the limelight on this record, but “Going, Going, Gone” is a song writing masterclass that stands out as a real gem.
The big question is where Luke Combs goes from here. At the time of writing this review, Growin’ Up is #1 in the UK all-genre album chart, which is some achievement for a country artist, and unprecedented in recent times. This is a guy who could well be headlining overseas arena tours very soon; it’s quite astonishing how fast Luke has achieved mega-star status. Keep delivering this level of material, which is slap-bang in the middle of the ball park for his ultra-enthusiastic fan base, and we could have another Garth Brooks on the horizon.