Luke Combs can sang. Not an “oh my friend is a good singer” sanger. Not an “oh do you sing in church” sanger. No, he’s a “let’s pack up all of our stuff in a van and move to Nashville and belt out tunes down on Demonbreun Street for a couple of minutes until Music Row drives by, rolls down their window and starts throwing money at us” sort of sanger. Luke Combs can sang.
So when a video of Combs and his band surfaced earlier this year of him belting out “Man of Constant Sorrow”, we took notice. It was a short and sweet concert upload but it thumped us right between the eyes. It’s a fitting song as it matches that signature growl he emotes in many of his country hits. In the end though, we simply chalked this up to him being a fan of ‘O Brother’. No big deal, right? Then eight months later on October 1, Billy Strings posted a gram of he and Luke clearly in the middle of a writing session! We don’t need Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to figure out this mystery – Luke Combs is working on a bluegrass record. Billy Strings certainly isn’t putting out a commercial country record so it must be the former.
With the premature parade that was thrown for Sturgill Simpson’s bluegrass announcement back in June, it wouldn’t be a longshot to think this spurred Mr Combs’ on toward greener pastures. With Steve Earle, Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton, Dierks Bentley, and the late, great Joe Diffie all friend requesting Mr Monroe with their past projects, it certainly looks appetizing to him. And just as the case with Sturgill, we say “bring on them sangers!” Bluegrass has the pickers. Like, tenfold, we have the pickers but as I’ve commented elsewhere before, we need more sangers and sangwriters, er..um…songwriters that is. Before you come at me like a monkey on a cupcake, I know we have some good singers but sanger sangers are few and far between. Russell Moore comes to mind. As does John Cowan and Shawn Camp. I could go on for a minute or so longer if you’d allow the bluegrass adjacent likes of Marcus Mumford and Tyler Childers in there but, honestly, the well runs dry pretty quickly.
If I’m right, I hope Luke comes wailin’! I hope he digs deep into those North Carolina roots. I hope it’s not a side project for funzies. I hope he sings songs that matter. I hope he picks pickers that aren’t your normal Nashville session players so that the album has raw character. I hope he grows out that nasty beard of his a little longer to really take on the mountain music he’s climbing up. I hope I’m right.
To learn more about Luke Combs, crawl out from under yo rock and google him, he’s literally the one of the biggest artists going right now.