Andrew Combs and his subtle blend of country and folk songs are like a sipping whiskey: smooth to the taste and warm on the way down. It makes you think of balmy Nashville nights and fills your head with hopes, dreams, loves and losses. His debut record Worried Man was a simple but effective album to welcome him to the music scene, and Combs has really upped his game on new record All These Dreams.
Combs is a master at painting a picture in your mind and album opener Rainy Day Song is testament to this; pretty and romantic, it starts off the record with a feeling of humility set against crisp country vocals and lyrics of a soft but fun nature: ‘your love gets me through, when I’m stuck in life’s crazy glue.
In The Name of You draws comparisons with early Ryan Adams mixed with Norah Jones and sees Combs stepping away from country for a pure soulful ballad. The singer really shines in this style and helps show off how great his vocals can be. Strange Bird is another album highlight, being sweet, innocent and gentle to the touch, whereas if you’re looking for a bit of edge and darkness, look no further than Pearl. The track’s sombre tone, both lyrically and musically, shows Combs as a true country musician, focusing on pain and redemption one minute, but then bringing it all back to salvation and compassion with the hook-laden ballad Slow Road To Jesus.
If you’re looking for a bash at something more contemporary, look no further than track Foolin’ which makes an effort to add something different to the record, cranking up the fun by setting up against a pop melody. It’s a decent effort but kind of feels a bit out of place amongst the heart-drenched atmosphere elsewhere on the record.
All These dreams is a complex piece compared to his debut, and Combs has made a case for why people should stand up and listen. His melodies are up their with the best and you feel emotionally drained by the end with the amount of heart he pours into his songs. This is an example to other musicians in how to make a second album; just do what you do best and don’t look back.