ALBUM REVIEW: Luke Combs sees things in a new light on ‘Gettin’ Old’
Billed as a reflection of where Luke Combs is at in his life now while reminiscing on the way things used to be, Growin’ Up, traverses themes of love, loss and family. But rather than from the perspective of a young man looking to make his family proud, he’s writing as a father who suddenly sees things from a new light.
River House Artists/Columbia Nashville, March 24
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The companion to last year’s Growin’ Up continues to solidify Combs as one of music’s brightest stars as he skillfully weaves acoustic backwoods ballads with rock-sounding anthems and artful storytelling.
While he’s made his name with love songs in the past, this album includes tunes about the love of a parent, as well as sibling love. “Take You With Me” is a sweet ballad about the relationship between a son and his father, when all the child wants to do is be around and like his dad. Combs became a father in 2022 and his newfound experiences come through in this song.
“See Me Now” is another track about a father and son, but this time from the perspective of an adult son going on about what he’s been up to since his dad’s passing. Both tracks showcase Luke Combs’ songwriting as he’s able to make mundane topics like gas prices or going fishing feel monumental when they’re with someone special.
Combs also flexes his ability to craft a narrative with “Where The Wild Things Are,” about brothers who live different lives (one in California and one who stayed home) but find a way to love each another despite the differences. It takes a tragic turn at the end; a cautionary tale about chasing the “wild life,” but the way Combs breathes life into this brotherhood is so beautiful and sad that I almost forgot that he was an only child and this story ain’t his own experience.
Sandwiched in the latter half of Gettin’ Old is a cover of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” which is the perfect addition to a collection of songs about growing up and getting old.
Combs also included a number of ballads that are sure to follow up the success of sweeter tracks like “The Kind of Love We Make,” from Growin’ Up. “Love You Anyway,” has a message about pursuing love even when it hurts, played over a slow melody that puts more of an emphasis on his words and his singing. And on “Tattoo on a Sunburn” he likens a painful breakup to the pain of getting a tattoo over a sunburn (ouch).
The 18 tracks here—Gettin’ Old is six longer than Growin’ Up—are a good mix of folky country, piano-driven ballads and rock-sounding songs played on electric guitar and fuller drumming. The thumping percussion in the middle of “My Song Will Never Die” makes the song sound anthemic.
Luke Combs’ voice, his tone and delivery, also sound richer and fuller here. He’s been known for his gravelly, less polished croon than his peers, but he sounds more dynamic. His voice lends itself to the stories he tells.
Follow writer Piper Westrom at Twitter.com/plwestrom.