Luke Combs’ new album may be titled What You See Is What You Get, but the singer-songwriter says he’s got a few surprises up his sleeve when the album drops later this fall.
“I’m really excited about the album,” he told Rolling Stone at the Country Music Hall of Fame’s All for the Hall fundraiser in Los Angeles recently. “I want people to still get what they’re expecting, but also push their boundaries a little bit.”
This will be Combs’ first full-length release since his debut album, This One’s for You, came out in 2017. He released an EP, The Prequel in June, which shot to the top of the charts. What You See comes out November 8th, and while Brooks & Dunn are featured on the song “1, 2 Many,” Combs isn’t revealing any other collaborators for now. “I’ve got one more big feature that I’m keeping close to my chest,” he says.
Musically, Combs teamed up once again with producer Scott Moffatt for What You See Is What You Get. The two sent each other ideas and work tapes from their iPhones, then laid down the vocals at Moffatt’s house outside of Nashville, “in a sub-floor attic,” Combs says. Moffatt handled most of the background vocals and production, which Combs says will hark back to a “Nineties country thing.” “It’s definitely not an experimental album by any stretch of the imagination,” he jokes.
Combs says he’s been effectively working on his sophomore full-length for three years now (This One’s for You was recorded in February and March of 2016). Over that time, he amassed more than 40 songs, which he had to whittle down for the new album. As for what to expect? Combs says, “it’s more of the same,” but “in the best way possible.”
“I didn’t want to go too crazy and do something weird and have people go, ‘What is this thing? We liked you because of that thing,'” he explains. “I’ve got artists where I’m like, ‘OK, man, go listen to your first record please. Can you at least do something that’s similar to what that was?’”
Still, Combs says his life has changed considerably over the past few years, so the new album will address slightly different themes besides alcohol and partying. “I’m almost 30 years old now and I’m not going to be out at the bar every night,” he says. “There are parts of me that are still like, ‘Man, I’m gonna get drunk as hell tonight,’ but I also want to be able to say, ‘Hey, I stayed at home tonight and watched TV and it’s Saturday night’ and that’s OK too. I just want to grow up a little bit.”
Combs, whose songwriting ability earned kudos from Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow at the All for the Hall event, says he’d like to tackle more personal subject matter in his songs, though he’s “just kind of dipping my toes in the water of that stuff” for now. Two of the songs he performed in L.A. — the introspective note-to-self, “Dear Today,” and a still-untitled track he wrote about his parents — are expected to be included on the new album. And though the 29-year-old says he “won’t be singing songs about having kids” anytime soon, he’s eager to use his music and his platform to bring more people together.
“I think there’s a great opportunity, especially right now with people being so divided about everything, for all different walks of life to have this tailgate together,” he says. “Music to me feels like one of the only things people can agree on. Because they definitely don’t agree on politics or religion or much of anything, but if you hear a Post Malone song and you like him, and you hear another person listening to it, you’re like, ‘Alright, I like that guy. I don’t know anything about him, but I like him.’ That’s a super powerful thing and definitely not something that should be taken lightly.”