Photo by Alysse Gafkjen
Andrew Combs doesn’t want to repeat himself. It’s his number one rule, his guiding principle, the only thing he’s really sure of as an artist. The first time I interviewed Combs, in 2015, he told me he never wanted to make the same record twice. When we met in Manhattan earlier this year to discuss his new album, Canyons Of My Mind, he said the same exact thing, more than once, in fact, stressing that despite his traditionalist approach to songwriting and despite the fact that iconic 70’s singer-songwriters like Guy Clark and Paul Simon get tossed around every time he’s written about, Combs has little patience for musical retro-revivalism.
“I like art to push you in new directions and make you think and not just regurgitate what’s already been done, even though we all do that. I’ve done it, and still do it; To a certain degree, you can’t not do it. But I try,” says the 30-year-old songwriter.
“What Andrew’s really great at is challenging himself,” says longtime friend and producer Jordan Lehning.
Over the past five years, Combs has pulled off the trickiest of feats for a singer-songwriter, releasing three markedly different albums that nevertheless share a deeper sense of continuity in voice. Whereas his 2012 trad-country debut Worried Man presented a world of mid-twenties mishap and young Nashville man blues, 2015’s follow-up All These Dreams established the singer as a polished crooner gradually coming into his own as a narrative storyteller.
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