Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This Texas bred singer/songwriter shouldn’t be a worried man for long if this terrific debut gets the exposure it deserves. Combs is a formidable talent who can swamp rock it up with the best of them on “Big Bad Love” and follow that with one of his most delicate acoustic ballads in “Come Tomorrow,” all wrapped in a honeyed, soulful, puppy dog voice that’s as memorable as the melodies on these eleven tracks. He borrows maybe a little too liberally from Bob Dylan’s New Morning period for this album’s sound, especially on “Take it From Me,” but if you’re going to be influenced by a Dylan disc, that’s as good as any. He’s got plenty of female trouble as evidenced by the opener “Devil Got My Woman” where his mate has inexplicably lost interest in sex (it must be the devil), the melancholy and gorgeous “Please, Please, Please” where he begs for another chance as he feels his lover slipping away and the rollicking boogie of “Why Oh Why.” But get him angry and he’ll shoot his girlfriend in her ankles for dancing with another dude on the somewhat misogynistic rocking title track. On the other side of his split personality Combs can turn on the teardrops for the sweet, sad country ballad “Too Stoned to Cry” aided immeasurably by Caitlin Rose’s harmony vocals and Spencer Cullum Jr’s sobbing pedal steel. As singer/songwriter first albums go, it’ll be tough to beat this as one of the years finest, from a newcomer who is hopefully just tapping into his talent.