Andrew Combs is set to release his third album, Canyons Of My Mind, on April 7th 2017. The 11-song set was co-produced by Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Caitlin Rose) & Jordan Lehning (Rodney Crowell, Caitlin Rose) and recorded at Battle Tapes Studio in East Nashville, TN. After touring behind his second album All These Dreams – which earned him international accolades and comparisons to everyone from Leonard Cohen to Harry Nilsson to Mickey Newbury – Combs has returned with a new album that puts down stakes in fresh sonic terrain. Canyons Of My Mind – as its title suggests – is a landscape where the personal and pastoral converge. Drawing inspiration from the biographies of literary figures like Charles Wright and Jim Harrison, Combs has created an album that explores the notion of “sustainability” in its many facets – artistic, economic, spiritual, environmental.
NPR Music’s Ann Powers previously stated, “His song-pictures are gorgeous, but he recognises their impermanence as he sings.” This deeply felt sense of ecology, of the transient beauty within nature’s chaotic churn, lies at the heart of Combs’ approach to his art. NPR Music recently premiered the video for the track “Dirty Rain, which can be seen http://www.npr.org/2017/02/02/512869160/songs-we-love-andrew-combs-dirty-rain.They stated “Andrew Combs possesses a voice that always provides a thrill; here, he makes sure it offers relevant substance, too”. He will soon announce a full European tour in May 2017.
A Dallas native now living near the same Nashville airport immortalised in the opening sequence of Robert Altman’s country music odyssey Nashville, Andrew Combs is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and heir to that 1975 film’s idea of the Nashville troubadour as a kind of musical monk. Here in the twenty-first century whorl of digital narcissism, where identity can feel like a 24/7 social media soft-shoe performance, Combs makes music that does battle with the unsubtle. As a songwriter, Combs relies on meditative restraint rather than showy insistence to write his songs, a technique commensurate with his idea of nature as an overflowing spiritual wellspring.
“When I set out to record my last album, I had a distinct vision of what I wanted the record to sound like. It was a cocktail of the Roy Orbison, Glen Campbell, Nilsson vibes that you can hear right there on the surface,” Combs says. “Canyons Of My Mind is much more personal. It’s a testament to my acceptance of who I am as a man, and who I am becoming.” The record’s sonic adventurousness bears witness to that evolution, as well as to some big changes in his personal life. Between All These Dreams and Canyons Of My Mind, Combs married his longtime girlfriend and honeymooned for six weeks in the Minnesota wilderness. The quiet struggles and satisfactions of carving out an identity in a world gone wrong are palpable throughout the album.
Whether questing through the labyrinth of his own spiritual yearning (“Heart of Wonder”), recreating a rail rider’s full-body sensation of freedom beneath an azure Montana sky (“Rose Colored Blues”), imagining a near-future dystopia where the very idea of green spaces have been annihilated (“Dirty Rain”), or channeling the desire of a peeping Tom who has fallen in love with his sylvan quarry (“Hazel”), Combs refines the vulnerable vagabond persona he mastered on All These Dreams while pushing it beyond those boundaries, into a more pastoral realm aligned with artists like Nick Drake and Tim Buckley. The idea of the artist’s creative life as an ecosystem – one just as in need of cultivation and care as our own imperiled world – informs much of Canyons Of My Mind.