Andrew Combs is another Nashville singer-songwriter who is carving out his own space outside the rigid lines of that town’s industry requisites. He draws from classic country and an interesting element of classic pop stylings. Combs’ self-proclaimed influences range from Kris Kristofferson to Harry Nilsson. From one there is a sense of lyricism from the other feel for memorable arrangements. Listen to Fooling’ and Strange Bird as examples of this. Glen Campbell would be another reference point. There are other influence here, but you can have fun picking them up yourselves. A loose feels of 70s radio permeates the sound; a time where there wasn’t quite the genre restrictions that there are now. It was a time when pop music was a little more genuine than it was calculated
Producers Skylar Wilson and Jordan Leaning understand this combination of styles have gathered a team of players who can realise that vision and making something that is new and alluring from the components involved. These include Combs’ voice, which is a relaxed, almost casual, yet incisive tone and it is an integral part of the overall sound that mixes a certain humble vulnerability with a assuredness that is both comforting and comfortable. The duo Steelism, who have recently released their own album, are lead guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel player Spencer Callum Jr and they are also an integral part of the sound. They are always present and pervasive, but never in a way that detracts from the overall feel, but rather enhances it.
Combs is an accomplished writer who, along with his co-writers, balances melody with lyrical dexterity. Slow Road to Jesus uses strings to emphasise the redemptive nature of the song. Pearl takes on a darker hue, and again Combs adapts his vocal approach to this foreboding tale with its depiction of a passed-out musician and a young prostitute or a failed star and finds a glimpse of hope in these undervalued people. Month of Bad Habits starts with a more stripped down sound before building to a heightened ambience of regret.
This, the second album, from Combs, stands at a point that looks back in order to see a future. It draws from a more positive time, one that produced many classic pop moments and a time when Nashville also had its sights set on crossover potential, but hadn’t lost its heritage and sound either. The eleven songs clock in at under 40 minuets, which makes them concise and continued slices of some very cool and collected music. Something that sometimes dreams can be made of.