No other region in the U.S. has a more distinct, mythical and complex narrative than the South, as masterfully told by William Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor, captured by Errol Morris (Vernon, Florida) or Robert Altman (Nashville), or more lately in the HBO series Quarry or the newly-acclaimed podcast S-Town.
But none have managed to describe everyday life of the American South as wonderfully striking as photographer William Eggleston. His quiet color pictures deal less with a clear subject or storyline, rather he tells magnificent tales of complexity and mystery found in the ordinary and mundane.
Called ‘one of Nashville’s most poetically gifted young singer-songwriters’ by NPR, with his wry observations and sharp eye for small details, Country-soul troubadour Andrew Combs could just as well have created the soundtrack to an Eggleston exhibition.
He also is a child of the South; born in Dallas, now residing in Nashville where he pens his personal and pastoral stories. And just as he himself has moved through the South, his music is rooted partly in the musical tradition of Texas songwriters like Guy Clark, Mickey Newbury and Kris Kristofferson and partly in 1960s Countrypolitan (Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich), while politely nodding to West Coast-tinged soft-rock (Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Eagles). Andrew Combs might well be described as a musical prism, reflecting the multifaceted depth of southern mythology and culture, but by doing so he has also unquestionably carved out a niche on his own.
His sophomore album, All These Dreams (2015), earned him lots of deserved recognition to a broader audience and brought him up to the elite division of New Nashville, where the borders between mainstream country and blue collar Americana thankfully is increasingly blurred out. He’s been touring with the likes of Justin Townes Earle, Eric Church, Shovels & Rope and Caitlin Smith.
Friday, April 7, Combs released the much-anticipated album Canyons of My Mind through the respected New West Records & Loose Music. We had the opportunity to have a brief chat with him ahead of album release.
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Congratulations with a new album. What do we get and what’s it about?
Thanks. Well, I guess it’s a collection of songs that may or may not give the listener a look inside my brain.
What will you say is the biggest difference between Canyons of My Mind and All These Dreams?
I tried to stretch myself musically on this record. I toyed around with my vocal approach, as well as different song structures. I also think this record was a little more raw and in the moment than All These Dreams.
What inspired you the most when writing the songs that ended up on this album?
The fearful apprehension of getting older. I find it scary, but also exciting.
Did you have a clear idea or vision on how Canyons of My Mind should be from the get go or did it develop along the way?
Definitely developed along the way. I never know what I’m doing until I get it done.
What can you share about the recording process and working with this material in the studio?
I worked with the same producers as my last record: Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson. They’re my buds and we always have a fun time collaborating. A big part of how this album sounds come from the engineer/mixer Jeremy Ferguson. He really knocked me out. And the band of course brought these tunes to life: Dom Billett on drums, Mike Rinne on bass, Ethan Ballinger on guitar, and Jordan and Skylar on keys. It was a good crew to work with.
What kind of feelings or sentiment do you wish the listener will get after hearing it?
Maybe the same feeling I get staring at swift moving water. Or a low flying bird. Calming with a sense of dread.
Please describe the ideal setting to ultimately enjoy the album?
On a drive. Or possibly at home with an adult beverage.
What would be the headline of the worst review of this album?
Ha-ha! I don’t really know, nor do I want to try and conjure one up. It seems like a difficult and depressing hole to start digging.
What’s in your opinion is the most perfect album ever made and why?
I have a few, but for the sake of time I’ll name one: Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy A Thrill. There’s a whole lot of Steely Dan hating that goes on in the world, and some of it I understand. But this record, sonically and song-wise, is perfect.
(originally published on read.tidal.com, April 3, 2017)