13 April 2017

Andrew Combs - Canyons of my Mind

The dreaded third album!  Over the years, many bands and artists have struggled with their third act and it has been a millstone for their necks.  But will this be the case for Dallas native, Andrew Combs?  After his last album 'All These Dreams' was well received in the press, he will be hoping to build on that good press.  I will be honest and state for the record, I cannot say I have heard of him before I was offered a chance to review 'Canyons of my Mind'.  But this means I come into this album with no preconceptions about how Andrew Combs sounds or expectations about this album.  This album 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, so it has been created in an area with a rich musical heritage.  So, how does it sound?

01 - Heart of Wonder

Starting off the album is 'Heart of Wonder' and this song is reminiscent of the sound of the Finn brothers (Crowded House) with a hint of John Lennon to the sound as well.  It is an old-school rock/pop number that harks back to a different time musically, but it has a modern twist to the sound that gives an addictive edge.  It is incredibly well crafter number, one that created many layers on intrigue with each spin.

02 - Sleepwalker

'Sleepwalker' reminds me a bit of Sting's solo work and it has some Spanish sound to the guitar in places.  It is a song that invokes the feeling of being listless in the presence of a lover who is cold and unattached to their spouse's feelings.  It is a thought provoking number, one seems to drift as much as it grabs your attention, it is a very intelligent song.

03 - Dirty Rain

This song evokes the memory of Lennon & McCartney, this is no word of a lie.  It could be a lost Beatles number that has just been unearthed and made flesh, it has that simple, but complex song writing which makes its stand out on this record.  It is a song about the environment and the consequences of our actions.  It is a heart breaker, one which also paints Mr Combs as an Anglophile (IE - he seems to like the British Rock/Pop sound).

04 - Hazel

One of a string of women who are named checked on this album, 'Hazel' is a slow number with unrequited love at its centre.  He is obsessed with a woman who does not want anything to do with him, she is enigmatic and keeps her own company.  It is decent enough, but not a song I would play on a regular basis.

05 -Rose Colored Blues

This song is a traditional Country song, a song about travelling and it is well performed.  However, I cannot bring myself to say anything more about this as it would be incredibly impolite.  Let's just say, not a fan of this song.

06 - Better Way

Now this is much better, in every way you could perceivable way you can imagine.  From the opening strumming of the guitar, the tone of the song, even the lyrics about another lover (this time, it is Christina) and it has that Crowd House feeling that keeps popping up every now and then on this record.  It is a much better song, such an improvement.

07 - Lauralee

Ok, let’s make this one quick.  This one is very reminiscent of Lennon/McCartney, Oasis and it is well played.  But it is so familiar from the beginning.  Not a bad number once again, but not one I am going to go out of my way to hunt down.

08 - Blood Hunters

With a bravado and moody introduction, 'Blood Hunters' takes this album by the scruff of the neck and injects a bit of entertainment back into proceedings.  It is a song about being hunted like prey, people trying to stop personal freedom.  It is a very good song, one which has been running through my mind as it is so different to the best part of this album.  If it was not for 'Heart of Wonder', this would have been the song of the album.

09 - Silk Flowers

A gentle song, this time with a nameless lover who is taking the place of someone else in the bed, but he is pining for someone who has left his life.  It is melancholic and slow, but it has a few country touches added to the pop/rock influences.  It is decent, not amazing to be honest but still a number that I would not turn off on the radio.

10 - Bourgeois King

A song about the current state of American politics and the ramifications to the planet, 'Bourgeois King' is a clever song that has an important message.  The sound is a modern take on British sixties pop/rock, with a hook line that is repeated throughout and some classic guitar solo mixed in with strings towards the ends.  This is one of the stand out tracks of this album.

11 - What It Mean to You

Ending the album is a Country duet with an unnamed lady (I am assuming that it is co-producer Skylar Wilson, but I could be wrong), about not wanting to return to a relationship which has long been over and one person just will not let go.  It is a song which is well performed, it will have its fan base out there and I cannot criticise the song per se. But it is not the type of song I tend to enjoy, so it does not work for me on that level, but I am not the target audience on this one.  So, well played, but not for me.

Overall this is a solid, well produced album from a competent and interesting singer who appears to have accidently made a United Kingdom rock/pop album in the heart of Nashville - this is no small feat and I am not sure if it was on purpose, although it does have a large dose of Americana in the mix as well.  There are a lot of influences on show, an awful lot of love songs (all of which focus on different women, Mr Combs is a little bit of a Casanova) and for the best part of the album, it works well enough.  There are a few songs which do not work though and it just does not hold enough for me to come back to it, but that can be the case for a lot of artists.  But for the most part, it is a decent record that will make his fans happy, but it is not one I would go out of my way to listen to again.

6.5 out of ten - Now, I see where you were going, but it is not quite there.

Top track - Heart of Wonder.

You can purchase Canyons of my Mind on Amazon here.

You can purchase Canyons of my Mind on the Andrew Combs Bandcamp page here.

You can visit the Andrew Combs website here.

You can follow the activities of Andrew Combs on Facebook here.

You can stream Canyons of the Mind on Spotify here.

You can stream Canyons of the Mind on Deezer here.

You can stream Canyons of the Mind on Tidal here.

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