This is Nashville-based singer-songwriter Andrew Combs’ second album and is released here in the UK on 26 January via Loose Music. He’ll be touring during January supporting Justin Townes Earle and appears with him on 18 January at Caedmon Hall, Gateshead.
Combs is already building a reputation as a ﬁne wordsmith and this album highlights his excellent songs and terriﬁc singing. “All These Dreams” was recorded in Nashville with a talented collection of musical collaborators, including lead guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel guitarist Spencer Cullum Jr., bassist Mike Rinne, drummer Ian Fitchuk, with co-producers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson on keyboards and percussion.
The songs are ﬁnely crafted and full of lyrical twists and turns as you can hear when the album kicks off with the nifty “Rainy Day Song” with a plaintive acoustic guitar and some sensitive brushes from Fitchuk. There’s a weeping pedal steel and some tasty slide guitar and it serves to set the scene for the album to come as you hear a variety of inﬂuences at play here. “All These Dreams” presents some complex arrangements, lyrics and musical tones and you can hear the inﬂuence of Coombs heroes’ as he acknowledges that “Roy
Orbison and Paul Simon were deﬁnite different inﬂuences.”
Rainy Day Song by Andrew Combs
“Nothing to Loose” talks of the hopelessness of ‘a man with nothing ﬁghting for something’ with a resigned dignity in his voice and subtle backing from his superb band. The songs are pretty much all mid-paced ballads with little to challenge the smooth ﬂowing of the songs. “Slow Road to Jesus” is probably the highlight here and Combs comments that, “A song like ‘Slow Road to Jesus’ is about ﬁnding redemption, but it’s also about coming to terms with taking the long way to get there.” The gorgeous string arrangement sets it apart from the rest of the album. “A Month of Bad Habits” follows, a song of lost love, it takes us through feelings of loss and regret and the search for forgiveness with a fractured guitar solo giving it a weird strange edge.
Combs’ songs are passionate and deep and he clearly cares about his craft and despairs about the quality of some of the music we hear today as he comments in the press release, “the songs and writers were much better in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. I’m not saying there aren’t talented people in Nashville now, but I don’t think we pay near as much attention to the song as they did back then. Maybe it’s ’cause we’re too busy tweeting about our latest gig or wardrobe purchase.” That thought helps to underline the superior nature of Combs’ songs and there’s much on show here to illustrate that superiority. One of them is an excellent dark song, “Pearl”, that is peopled by bent Cops, drunks, whores, drug addicts, rebels and itinerant street musicians that is truly wonderful. The album ends though with a stripped down “Suwannee County” which has a weeping pedal steel colouring a mournful tale of looking back on a life seemingly on the edge of death with “heaven waiting around the bend”, a beautiful and poignant closer.
It’s not everyday that you come across a passionate and committed songwriter with a set of such ﬁnely crafted songs. This is a superb album that begs for your attention and repays any investment you might want to make in full.
Reviewer: Greg Johnson