It seems that there is still one constant in a world that’s slowly getting closer to that Zombie apocalypse most of us have been preparing for. No matter how much crap we have to take, fantastic music keeps getting written and released. Andrew Combs “Worried Man” was high on the list of albums I’ve been really looking forward to this year, and it does not disappoint.
I discovered his EP “Tennessee Time” after Autopsy IV wrote about him in 2010, and reviewed it for my norwegian blog. I’ve been keeping tabs on him ever since, and after his vinyl single “Big Bad Love” I knew the upcoming album would be good. And it is. It’s even better than good. It’s outstanding.
Andrew Combs has taken all the best from the people who inspire him, distilled it and created his own sound to suit his voice. You’ll find some Townes Van Zandt here, you’ll find a pinch of Guy Clark, and a good amount of John Prine. There’s some Dylan here! He’s taken all that was good about the 70’s Outlaw Country, and given us an album filled with some of the strongest songs you’ll hear this year.
But mixing your influences and matching the sound of old masters to suit your music doesn’t automatically mean it will work. It takes work, and most of all it takes great songs and inspired lyrics.
And Andrew Combs has been inspired, all right. After “Tennessee Time” he went through a break with his girlfriend, and found himself living on friends couches in Nashville and Austin – all the while writing songs and getting material ready for his album. And as we know (sadly, I might add), breakups are one of the constants that ensure the eternal flow of great music being created. That source of inspiration gifted songwriters tap into when their hearts are broken has given us some of the best albums the world has ever seen. Where would we have been without Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks” ?
The album kicks off with “Devil’s Got My Woman”, and the stage is set. He’s lost his woman, and the devil is to blame.
I’ve mentioned the dirty swamp rocker “Big Bad Love”, and I really hope he get’s Jason Isbell to sit in with him on this one when they play some gigs together in december.
His influence from Townes Van Zandt is most obvious on the magnificent “Come Tomorrow”. This must be one of the best countryballads I’ve heard in the last 20 years, and knowing his recent story and that it comes from the heart – this really gives you a kick in the guts.
Dylan was mentioned, and especially “Take It From Me” would not have sounded out of place on his “New Morning”-album.
Combs talks about how he cleans out his head after the breakup in “Running You Out Of My Mind”, giving us further insight to how this has affected him.
Oh, I keep on running
Oh, I’ll be fine
Oh, I keep on running
’til I run you out of my mind.
One of the things I really like about this album, is that it has so much variation, while it keeps to a underlying theme and a sound that’s consistent. But at the same time we get country songs, rock, swamp rock and he even channels his inner Chuck Berry and mixes it with some Sun Studios-era Jerry Lee Lewis to create the rockabillyesque boogierocker “Why Oh Why”.
But mainly the sound on the album is driven by a awsome pedal-steel and the most kick-ass hammond organ you’ll ever hear. It sounds out of this world. Drop in some piano, a hot dobro and some rockin’ guitars – and you’re home free. And you can hear it’s all done with a profound love of those old outlaw-country albums.
Before I ramble on as I tend to, I’ll just have to mention the title-track “Worried Man”. It’s as good a murder ballad as you’ll ever hear! Yeah, and Caitlin Rose sings on the brilliant “Too Stoned To Cry”. That never hurts any song…
This is essential listening, and easily one of the best albums of 2012.