In the past 365 days, Andrew Combs has been anything but bored. He signed on with a killer label (New West Records,) got hitched to his longtime girlfriend, began prepping himself to be a father, and not long after this post goes live he’ll be officially dropping Canyons of My Mind, the follow up to his watershed album All These Dreams.
Where Dreams wowed fans and critics with is combination of sonic wizardry and timeless lyricism, it feels to me like Canyons is more of a personal testament or a mark in time, addressing such themes as environmentalism (“Dirty Rain,”) politics (“Bourgeois King,”) and the ever-present search for what’s next (“Heart of Wonder.”) Or maybe I’m projecting a bit.
Lucky for us, Andrew found a few minutes to answer a some of our questions in between gigs. Read through to get a bit of a deeper take on the new album—and other things—but rest assured, regardless of what the true aim of the album is, fans of the young Nashville artist with the sing-me-the-phonebook voice and a knack for storytelling are sure to enjoy what meets their ears when Canyons officially hits the market tomorrow.
MusicSavage: As listeners, especially in the folk and country genres, it feels like we want albums to really have a theme or a purpose—perhaps that comes from the storytelling aspect of those types of music. Is there a purpose or cause behind Canyons?
Andrew Combs: I’d say my main muse for these songs was the combination of love and fear I have about growing older. It’s not a concept record by any means, but that is definitely a common thread that ties all the songs together.
MS: I believe I’ve heard you say you never imagined that you’d write a song with a political angle to it, but Bourgeois King is one of the best songs I’ve heard that addresses the current social and political climate. Do you think you’ll put more effort toward crafting more songs of that nature?
AC: If the political climate stays the same, yes. It’s hard not to write about something that is so in your face.
MS: No thinking: If you had to sum up or describe Canyons in one word, what would that word be?
AC: I described to someone else that this record feels like a calming sense of dread. I’ll stick to that. I know it’s not one word, but it’s the best I can do!
MS: OK, a general question: When you’re putting a new album together, do you ever consider what your fans or the general public with think about it? Or do you strictly follow your heart and gut?
AC: I do my best to stick to my gut. Part of the maturation of an artist, in my opinion, is learning how to maintain a singular vision on what you want to create, without giving in to outside forces telling you what you should do.
MS: Unless I’m wrong, in the past year you joined a new label, put out a new album, got a (new) wife, and have a new addition on the way. Talk about intense. How have all those things and all that energy influenced you as an artist?
AC: It’s definitely made me more focused on my career. There’s no time for bullshit anymore.
MS: Any other new things you want to cram in while you’re at it?
AC: Ha! Nah, I’m good. I’ve taken on more than I can handle already.
MS: One last question: my ten year old is a huge fan of yours and he wanted to know what kind of music you listened to when you were his age. And I’m interested in what you’re listening to a lot of right now. OK that’s two questions, but it’s one paragraph.
AC: Hmmm ten years old? I guess I was listening to what my parents listened to – Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, etc… But not long after that I became interested in what was popular at the time. You know, 90s alternative rock and whatnot. Thankfully that phase didn’t last too long.
I’ve been digging the new Michael Nau songs coming out and I’m always on a Cass McCombs kick. I also have been playing a lot of the composer Arvo Pärt. He’s great headphone music for the van.
Andrew Combs Tour Dates, Spring 2016
04/08/17 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground
04/09/17 Cambridge, MA Atwood’s Tavern
04/10/17 York, PA Sign of The Wagon
04/11/17 Columbus, OH Ace of Cups
04/30/17 Kilkenny, Ireland Kilkenny Roots Festival
05/02/17 Manchester, United Kingdom Night And Day Cafe
05/03/17 Oxford, United Kingdom The Bullingdon
05/04/17 Birmingham, United Kingdom Glee Club
05/06/17 Edinburgh, United Kingdom The Caves
05/07/17 Leeds, United Kingdom Brudenell Social Club
05/08/17 Nottingham, United Kingdom The Maze
05/09/17 London, United Kingdom Borderline
05/11/17 Göteborg, Sweden Pustervik
05/12/17 Oslo, Norway Cafe Mono
05/14/17 Stockholm, Sweden Scala Theatre
05/15/17 Malmo, Sweden Folk a Rock