Texas-born singer-songwriter Andrew Combs has been quietly building a name for himself on the Nashville circuit with his country-folk sound. He’s also been gaining fans in the UK too following his appearance on the C2C: Country to Country main stage in 2016. After a headline tour in the UK earlier this year, Andrew made a whistle-stop visit to the UK as part of his European tour to promote his latest album, Canyons Of My Mind.
Combs opened the acoustic set with Month Of Bad Habits from his second album, All These Dreams. It had a slightly desolate feel to the intro and I liked that it brought out the slight gravelly edge to his voice. He followed that with Rainy Day Song, which he wrote with Brent Cobb and which Lee Ann Womack covered on her latest album. The song is much more typical of Andrew’s style, showing off his soulful side alongside the folky melody and allowing his skill as a guitar player to come through as well.
Throughout the set Combs mixed in songs from all three of his albums, with standouts including the romantic Like A Feather, the balance of sweet melodies and melancholy lyrics in Suwanee County and the yearning Lauralee, which got the best crowd response of the night. However, what tied it all together was the gorgeously detailed imagery in his lyrics, as well as his impressive vocals which including him showing off his falsetto and whistling throughout the set. He also performed two new songs – the lonesome Tom Petty-inspired Born Without A Clue and the evocative Firestarter – which got a great reception from the crowd.
One thing which particularly stood out for me was the range of styles and influences on show in Combs’ performance, from Rose Coloured Blues (which sounded like an introspective version of Glen Campbell’s Gentle On My Mind) to the Nirvana-esque Blood Hunters, via ‘tree hugging hippy song’ Dirty Rain which echoed Cat Stevens’ Where Do The Children Play?. It really showed off his diversity as an artist and that he’s choosing to push himself musically which is always great to see an artist doing.
Combs finished the set with his wife’s favourite song, Hazel, from his new album. It’s a very sparse song but beautifully showcased his haunting vocal and ability to develop a story and characters. After a thunderous call for more he returned to the stage to take suggestions from the audience for the encore. He went for Please Please Please, the melodic and uptempo Strange Bird, and the driving rhythm of Foolin’ which had the whole crowd singing along. All three songs really highlighted the rich tones in his voice and his vocal particularly soared on the latter two songs.
Overall I thought Combs put on an excellent show that was perfectly suited to the intimate venue, allowing his vocal to really shine through – especially on the more folk-influenced songs – as well as emphasising the beauty of his songwriting. The only thing I felt the set was missing was a properly uptempo singalong number, but that’s not really his style so I suppose it might have felt a bit out of place otherwise. That said, he seriously impressed me and I’m looking forward to seeing him back in the UK soon.
Set list: 1. Month Of Bad Habits 2. Rainy Day Song 3. Like A Feather 4. Rose Coloured Blues 5. Suwanee County 6. Dirty Rain 7. All These Dreams 8. Born Without A Clue 9. Firestarter 10. Lauralee 11. Too Stoned To Cry 12. Blood Hunters 13. Hazel 14. Please Please Please 15. Strange Bird 16. Foolin’ Performance date: Wednesday 1st November 2017