If you haven’t listened to Andrew Combs’ latest record Sundays, you’re doing something wrong. It’s as simple as that. It’s his finest work yet and I was so glad that Combs – and his band members Jerry Bernhardt and Dominic Billet, who also play with Courtney Marie Andrews and Erin Rae – took a detour on their European tour to record another session for The Influences. At Mailmen studios they recorded a Tom Waits cover and two songs from Sundays: The Ship and Anna Please.
Later on in this article you’ll read Andrew Combs talking about his admiration for Tom Waits and the fact that he’s always evolving as an artist. Arguably the same can be said for Combs who, with the release of Sundays especially – but with previous records as well, has broadened his own horizon and expanded our worlds by doing so.
Earlier Andrew Combs records were filed quite comfortably within the Americana genre. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, mind you. Those records are wonderful and there are a lot of songs on both All These Dreams and Canyons Of My Mind that have found a welcome place in my memory and that of others. Combs could have easily stayed in that warm and comfortable lane and continue building his career. Instead, he kept searching new avenues and developing his craft and style.
“Tom Waits is the ultimate example of an artist who’s constantly evolving.”
“I’ve always been such a fan boy of Tom Waits. I guess I was first drawn to him through his early work, the songs on The Heart of Saturday Night in particular- that’s really perfect songwriting in my opinion. But that’s just a tiny part of his career. I really love artists who are constantly evolving and he is sort of the ultimate example of this. From his more folky stuff, to the vaudeville jazzy tunes, to his more eclectic newer albums — it is all exceptional and forever interesting to me.”
Mark of the man
2019’s Ideal Man already showed a bit of a shift, but his latest collection Sundays is his most distinctive and innovative work yet. It sees Combs, who is a painter as well as a musician, take a leap of faith and dive deep into whatever creative output appears. Sundays takes you several different places and emotions, all within its thirty-eight minutes.
The first time we filmed, in late 2019, he said this about Ideal Man: “It just came out like that and it was only after we recorded it, that I realized what was going on. The next one will be even weirder, I’m sure.” He laughs: “I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’ve been interested more in stuff like Brian Eno and the new Nick Cave. I don’t know what the word is, more abstract…”
And so Combs inevitably did what he admires about influences like Radiohead and Tom Waits: create without compromise. And for me, that’s when the magic happens. Sure, sometimes you won’t love everything an artist creates, but it will always be interesting and real. And then perhaps the next work will be more to your liking. Maybe Combs will someday release something that doesn’t have the spark this record does, but it will be real and it will be forever interesting.
Filmed & edited by Matthijs van der Ven.
Audio recorded & mixed by Martijn Groeneveld.
Assistant: Jesse van der Bruggen.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Thank you for watching and enjoying this session. You’ll probably like some other sessions from The Influences’ archive too, like this earlier one by Andrew Combs!