5 Covers and a Song
Andrew Combs new EP, 5 Covers and A Song, is a masterpiece on a variety of levels. His song selection, the execution of the material, and his own beautifully written song combine to create a perfect mix that makes it difficult to comprehend that he didn’t write the 5 other songs. While they do fall into the category of “covers”, Andrew’s sincerity for the music almost creates a new category for singing someone else’s material.
The Loudon Wainwright III “4 x 10” is a beautifully painful song that Andrew steps into with a smooth take on the melody and instrumentation. The acoustic, live sound of the recording mesh perfectly with how Andrew presents the lyrics and enhances the intended meaning and lyrics of the song.
“Reptilia” is completely reworked from The Strokes originally straight ahead, rock/punk flavored song into a fantastically re-imagined, Latin-flavored piece of work. It’s substitutes horns for guitars riffs and is driven by an upright bass. The inclusion of a variety of percussive instruments add to that Latin groove and transport you to the dance clubs of Cuba or Miami.
The Radiohead song, “You and Whose Army”, is a more straight ahead cover of the original material but still showcases Andrew’s ability to take on tough material his own way. It’s cleaner, instrumentally, than the original while maintaining the difficult melody almost note for note. It holds the integrity of the song and is a nice nod to a songwriter that has obviously had an impact on Andrew.
“Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me” by Blake Mills is the break up song that expresses all the unsaid regrets and anxieties that present at the end of a relationship. Andrew really nails this one and between the constantly moving vocal lines and the lamenting, “I know I fucked up” lines, it grabs you in the way that Blake seems to have intended.
The last cover song Andrew tackles is Lucinda Williams deliberately paced “I Envy the Wind”. You can hear Andrew singing at the upper range of his voice to faithfully recreate the “love song” of the selected piece. It nicely rounds out his various nods to the songwriters that have given him inspiration, in all of it’s many forms.
His own contribution, “Expectations”, punctuates the album as if to say, this is what I’ve learned from all these influences. Co-written with Sarah Siskind, “Expectations” is beautiful, and heartbreaking as a true piece of art should be.
I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew back in 2016 at an intimate show in Cedar Rapids Iowa. He sat on stage with a guitar and microphone and, song by song, impressed me with his unassuming delivery of his deeply personal material. Although it’s been a couple years, and a couple albums later, he’s still pulling the heart strings and impressing me song by song.
Get to his website to grab this album and see where you can catch him on tour…you will not be disappointed!!!