Album Review: Andrew Combs – Canyons Of My Mind

Nick Album Review, Headlines

Andrew Combs is one of those artists that makes you stop and think. Not only because he is among the crop of musicians who are reclaiming Nashville from those who manipulate it for the sake of their bottom line, regardless of the quality of the song or music coming out of the studios, but also because he turned his back on a successful Texan music career, making a decent living touring around his home state of Texas in exchange for spreading his music outside the borders of the panhandle state. A good thing he did as well, because he is a veteran of a few UK and European tours, both headlining and supporting superstar Eric Church, as well as being one of the headlining acts in the arena music festival Country2Country in London, Dublin and Glasgow.

“Canyons Of My Mind’ is his third record, and his most sophisticated to date. Whilst he has never been a sucker for pop country, this is his edgiest record, and probably his most melancholy as well, which is saying something about the artist who seems to specialise in fairly moody music.

“Heart Of Wonder” kicks off the record with a bit more an upbeat, full-band feel. It is a great opening to the record, with a dramatic burst of activity, straight into the vocals and a heavy-yet-unobtrusive percussion and key changes to retain the interest for the casual listener. It is not the kind of record that one passively listens to, and this song is no different.

“Sleepwalker” is more stripped back, and contains the lyric which gives rise to the album title. It’s quite unusual for there to not be a title track for a modern record, but this really works for this record, and especially for this track, which focuses on a stupor caused by the love of a woman who isn’t interested.

The ballads then really get going with “Dirty Rain”, my personal highlight of a record full of highlights. This shows off Andrew’s fantastic falsetto, almost unaccompanied, which is a really vulnerable place to be for a lot of male singers. These are some lyrics to really listen to, being both deep and pretty depressing. “The only thing that remains is the dirty rain” is a recurring lyric, bemoaning the theme of what we are leaving our children; “where will all the little children play” he repeats. The melody is haunting, and the lyrics are full of depressing meaning, possibly referring to the political climate of America, and indeed the world, as he directly refers to in ‘’Bourgeois King’’ where he writes about building walls and “make this country great again” in reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan.

Other highlights include “Hazel” which has a particularly encapturing melody, and again an impressive falsetto. This is more a song of longing, with Hazel being the subject of the song trying to describe this woman who enchanted Andrew so. Likewise ‘’Lauralee’’ is written about a moan and is one of the three songs pre-released before the record release on the 7th April. The melody here is more upbeat, with much more band accompaniment, with piano and violin, but this doesn’t detract from its power, since richness of the vocals and backing are among the best on the record. This is going to be a single at some stage along the record’s lifeline, that I am sure of.

“Canyons Of My Mind” is a record to listen to, and also a record to buy. With a thicker instrumental backing than anything Andrew has produced before, it has a thicker texture, and existing fans will find the same deep lyrics that we come to expect. This is a record that should be made part of a collection, and I recommend that it does.

  Track List
  1. Heart of Wonder
  2. Sleepwalker
  3. Dirty Rain
  4. Hazel
  5. Rose Colored Blues
  6. Better Way
  7. Lauralee
  8. Blood Hunters
  9. Silk Flowers
  10. Bourgeois King
  11. What It Means To You


More Information

Birthday

19 December 1986


Birthplace

Dallas, Texas



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About the Author

Nick

I listen to music of all genres, including most of the sub-genres within country. I tend to focus on alt-country/Americana, but have a few loves within more mainstream circles. I am almost certainly the world's biggest Lee Ann Womack and Chris Stapleton fan, but my love of Aubrey Sellers, Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson is also the stuff of legend.