“She was a Carolina blue-jean baby/ fire in her eyes that drove me crazy/ it was red tail-lights when she left town/ if I didn't know then, I sure know now/ but long-neck ice-cold beer never broke my heart/ like diamond rings and football teams have torn this boy apart/ like a neon dream, it just dawned on me, that bars and this guitar/ and long-neck ice-cold beer never broke my heart.” - Beer Never Broke My Heart - Jonathan Singleton-Luke Combs-Randy Montana

North Carolina nouveau outlaw country star Luke Combs has broken all sales records on his second album's debut on Billboard with a little help from home state mentor Eric Church.

Combs nailed his talent to the bayside cross when he sold out St Kilda Palais in March with femme fatale and Arkansas traveller Ashley McBryde.

Now the prolific singer-songwriter, who co-wrote all 17 songs on What You See Is What You Get, has topped Billboard Top 200 all-genre chart with 172,000 albums sold, including 109,000 pure album sales.

It also scored 74 million streams that eclipsed Gene Autry's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Other Christmas Classics that received nearly 44 million streams last year over the Christmas holiday.

His debut album This One's For You spent record-tying 50 weeks at #1 with many of those weeks in 2019 despite being released in June of 2017.

It tied Shania Twain's Come On Over late October for longest-running #1 album in country music history.

Combs hit singles also created records - his latest #1 hit Even Though I'm Leaving was his seventh consecutive chart-topper.

That was more cream on the country gateau for the singer who won CMA male Vocalist of the Year and song of the year for Beautiful Crazy this month.

Oklahoma born CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks said that in future years, it would be Luke Combs winning the award.

Combs even landed his song Let's Just Be Friends on the Angry Birds Movie 2 soundtrack.

He was just 29 when inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on June 11 by fellow stars Craig Morgan, Chris Janson and country legend John Conlee.

So that's just a small slice of Combs chart candy.

Why is the beefy brave the sales saviour and flag raiser for a genre that first broke the mould with veteran renegades diverse as Waylon & Willie, Hank Williams Jr, Merle Haggard, David Allan Coe, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Wylie Hubbard and singing crime novelist Kinky Friedman?

Well, read on.


“There's daddy on his John Deere, brand new in '96/ beside me and Bandit playing fetch when I was a kid/ a save-the-date, best day of my best buddy's life/ anybody else could walk on by, and not blink an eye/ cause they're just pictures hanging side by side/ forgotten memories from another time/ just the places that I've been before/ couple magnets, recipes, and Polaroids/ yeah, but that's my life on the refrigerator door.” - Refrigerator Door - Jordan Brooker-Luke Combs.

Combs tears pages from his past and daubs them onto a timely tableau that takes listeners deep into a memory bank where he has made deposits in the mists and recent resurrections of time.

Luke is no suburban slave raised in computerised time cells where screens are regular retreats from smoke filled mean streets, traffic jams, carjackers, home invaders and terrorist trolls.

It's energised turbo-tonking from latest hits Beer Never Broke My Heart, Refrigerator Door and Even Though I'm Leaving to evocative flight fuelled finale Nothing Like You and Better Together , reflecting his engagement to Nicole Hocking in late 2018.

All this is delivered in radio friendly phosphate spread by his embryonic producer Scott Moffatt with country rock roots laced by fiddler Aubrey Hayne, Carl Miner on banjo and mandolin, Gary Morse on pedal and lap steel and acoustic guitar and mandolin by Ilya Toshinsky.

Combs name-checks Brooks & Dunn in Lovin' On You before being joined by them on 1,2 Many and embryonic home state mentor Eric Church on Does To Me.

He proves his success is worthy as he ignites childhood and adolescence in tunes diverse as Moon Over Mexico, Blue Collar Blues, New Every Day, Reasons , reality rooted title track and joyous romance in Every Little Bit Helps.

Producer Scott Moffatt's salient sequencing accentuates the tempo changes that ensure Luke is no one trick pony as hedonistic anthem Angels Workin' Overtime segues into lust laden All Over Again.

As a treat here is a track by track summary below, replete with songwriters.


“I'm a straight shooting/ beer drinking, rule breaking/ don't think I won't take a good thing too far/ I'm a midnighting, backsliding/ getaway car driving, running away with your heart/ I guess, be careful what you wish for/ is all I meant when I said/ what you see is what you get.” - What You See Is What You Get - Luke Combs/Barry Dean/Jonathan Singleton.

1. Beer Never Broke My Heart (Luke Combs/Randy Montana /Jonathan Singleton)

Beer Never Broke My Heart scored three million streams during first five days of release - his sixth chart-topper in a row. It's classic Combs - blue collar bliss with appeal to both rural and urban listeners.

2. Refrigerator Door (Luke Combs/Jordan Brooker)

Combs debuted this live solo in 2016 with lyrics about photographs, recipes and family memories in the kitchen and beyond.

3. Even Though I'm Leaving (Luke Combs/Wyatt Durrette/Ray Fulcher)

Combs traces the arc of a father-and-son relationship's over multiple decades from the nightmare-filled nights of the son's youth to the final moments of his father's later years that ends as a true tearjerker.

4. Lovin' on You (Luke Combs/Thomas Archer/Ray Fulcher/James McNair)

Combs ignites a plethora of redneck requisites - Miller Light, Marlboro, Brooks & Dunn - as his band cuts loose.

5. Moon Over Mexico (Luke Combs/Ray Fulcher/Dan Isbell/Jonathan Singleton)

“Taste the salt on the rim, feel the sand on your skin and the wild in the wind, like I'm right there again,” Combs details a fleeting romance from somewhere south of the border.

6. 1, 2 Many with Brooks & Dunn) (Luke Combs/Dan Isbell/Tyler King/Drew Parker)

Combs teams with Brooks & Dunn for second time this year after being on the remake of the duo's embryonic hit Brand New Man .

7. Blue Collar Boys (Luke Combs/Erik Dylan/Ray Fulcher/Derrick Moody)

Producer Moffatt channels the back-porch twang of a banjo to crashing power chords as Combs salutes his blue-collar brethren. “ Carolina to California up to Illinois , there's guys like us: blue collar boys.”

8. New Every Day (Luke Combs/Ray Fulcher/Josh Thompson)

“I never knew a king size bed was just another place to drown, or how lonely, lonely sounds,” Combs laments during this power ballad that highlights lonesome feelings of walking through life without your partner.

9. Reasons (Luke Combs/Ray Fulcher/James McNair)

Reasons is a hedonistic anthem that turns a ruptured romance into a celebratory recovery.

10. Every Little Bit Helps (Luke Combs/Chase McGill/James McNair)

Every Little Bit Helps enables Combs to wash away the memory of an ex with a trip to the dive bar.

11. Dear Today (Luke Combs/Erik Dylan/Rob Snyder)

Combs straps on an acoustic guitar and sings a song to his past self with the first verse and chorus the actual work tape cut in a California hotel room. The homemade feeling persists throughout the song, even after the band makes an understated entrance.

12. What You See Is What You Get (Luke Combs/Barry Dean/Jonathan Singleton )

The album's title track is a take-me-or-leave-me missive that makes no apologies for Combs' snuff habit or beer consumption with singalong choruses.

13. Does to Me (with Eric Church) (Luke Combs/Ray Fulcher/Tyler Reeve)

Eric Church and Combs join forces for this tribute to good old boys from the Carolinas and way beyond. Church sings half a verse, working some fishing lingo and a Don Williams shout-out into his 20-second spotlight. The two vocalists share the final chorus, and the result isn't a passing of the country torch as much as an agreement to hold it aloft together.

14. Angels Workin' Overtime (Luke Combs/Josh Phillips/Josh Thompson)

This is a southern rocker that is highly reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Brothers .

15. All Over Again (Luke Combs/Corey Crowder/Ray Fulcher)

The digitally enhanced drumbeat that kicks off All Over Again is one of Combs concessions to the steady encroachment of polished pop music in a familiar tale of a failed romance that becomes a series of late-night one-offs and short-lived resurrections.

16. Nothing Like You (Luke Combs/Drew Parker/Robert Williford)

Led by understated drums, mandolin, and Combs' acoustic guitar this is a road warrior's love letter to someone waiting back home. “I've spent every mile missing you, baby,” he sings over stripped-back sonics, highlighting content of his lyrics rather than crunch of his band.

17. Better Together (Luke Combs/Dan Isbell/Randy Montana)

The album ends on a poignant note as piano chords underscore Combs' gruff soulful vocal.

“If I'm being honest, your first and my last name would just sound better together,” he sings in a simple message of love and thanks for the woman who's supported his run up the country ladder.

CLICK HERE for a previous Combs feature in the Diary on July 9, 2018.

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