A young artist harkening to the past walks the tightrope between influence and imitation. On “all These Dreams” Andrew Combs has the balance of his extraordinary talent and songwriting chops to establish his troubadour bonafides and put to rest any calls of an acoustic derivative.
That song craft, production combined with Combs’ easy-going vocals on songs ‘Rainy Day Song’ and ‘Nothing to Lose’ feel lifted from the Jim Croce legacy of understated acoustic pop brilliance. This is not a knock. This is a daring, almost nuts, move where irony and beats glut the popular music landscape.
The self-conscious tension of ‘Foolin’ is countered by a spritely, soulful Doug Sahm-meets-Roy Orbison arrangement. The finger-picking intro to “Strange Birds’ gives way to a breezy shuffle in this song masking search for love akin to bird watching (complete with a whistle break.) ‘In The Name Of You’ is a velvet-gloved gut punch string-swelling confessional that would make Harry Nilsson crack a smile.
‘Slow Road To Jesus’ is a title-fitting waltz that follows the narrator down the hard path of trial, tribulation toward the path of deliverance. That path isn’t easy as ‘Bad Habits,” a yearning bluesy number, recount of worldly temptations that thwarts the best of intentions.
The path continues on ‘Suwanee,’ a song of distilled emotional and style directness in the style of Guy Clark, that sends an invitation of natural and spiritual beauty as waypoints pointing to paradise.
‘All Theses Dreams” has Andrew Combs panning for 70’s FM gold and teasing out three minute nuggets of pop-folk riches that reminds us that not all pop is soulless pyrite. Combs is working within a nostalgic framework and creating vibrant work. He knows what he’s doing, there’s a hunger for this kind of music.
Here’s hoping for a deep and bountiful creative vein.