For any young artist, an important leap happens when influences are absorbed and the act of mining the past transforms into something personal. That's what happens on All These Dreams, the second album from the singer-songwriter Andrew Combs, to be released in the U.S. in early March. Combs is an impeccable craftsman indebted to not only the troubadour lineage of his native Texas, but to that magical moment at the turn of the 1960s into the 1970s when country, soul, rock and pop balladry all mingled on sophisticated albums by artists as varied as Kris Kristofferson, James Taylor and Phoebe Snow. All These Dreams flows the way albums did then, with Combs's vulnerable voice lifted up within lush arrangements in songs that balance pensiveness with yearning.
"Nothing To Lose," based around Spencer Cullum, Jr.'s steel-guitar pirouettes, is one of the album's signature songs. For its video, director Tim Duggan mirrors what Combs and his tight group of collaborators (including Cullum's duo Steelism and the producers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson) accomplish musically, creating a vintage feel that also registers up close. In elegant monotone, it resembles the dramatically cut musical performances that preceded the MTV age, whether they appeared as part of television programs like The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour or as stand-alone promotional clips.
In an elegantly rumpled suit jacket and loosened bolo tie, Combs sings into a vintage microphone. He needs a shave. "Pride got the best of me; she took the rest of me," he murmurs as the music swirls around him. The camera pans to reveal Combs's band; at one point, backup singers Erin Rae Mckaskle and Juliana Daily appear superimposed at the front of the frame, a couple of Mod angels. The video keeps Combs' music at the center while opening up a flood of associations. It's a classic performance perfect for right now.