Andrew Combs, a Dallas native now living near the same Nashville airport immortalized in the opening sequence of Robert Altmans country music odyssey, is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and heir to that 1975 films idea of the Nashville troubadour as a kind of musical monk. Here in the twenty-first century whorl of digital narcissism, where identity can feel like a 24/7 social media soft-shoe performance, Combs makes music that does battle with the unsubtle. Like the pioneering color photographer William Eggleston, he sees the everyday and the commonplace as the surest paths to transcendence, and he understands intuitively that what is most obvious is often studded with the sacred.
On his EP, 5 Covers & A Song (New West Records), Combs showcases songs that have had an impact on him at different points in his life. Songs by The Strokes and Radiohead are a nostalgic look back at teenage self discovery, while Loudon Wainwright IIIs 4 x 10 represents a more current perspective, reflecting on his life now as a husband and father.
4 x 10 sparked the initial idea to record a collection of covers, says Combs. Jordan Lehning (producer) and I had a bonding moment over this tune and how perfect we thought it was. In fact, we even thought of doing the whole EP of just Loudon songs. In my opinion he is one of the few writers who can cover the territory of familial relationships in such a shrewd and comfortable manner.
I wanted at least a couple of these tunes on the EP to be nostalgic for me, Combs continues. I was a huge fan of The Strokes two first records when I was in high school. My friends and I used to dress like them I had a white belt and white chucks Id rock every day! I actually have Radiohead to thank for getting me into music. I remember the exact moment when my friend passed me a burned CD of Amnesiac in history class one day. I was probably 14. It was my first Radiohead record, and I worked back in their catalog from there, loving everything I heard. They still mean a lot to me as a band. Everything they do pushes into new territory music, lyrics, artwork, etc
The idea for the EP evolved as a setting to recognize some of his favorite songwriters. We all know that Blake Mills is a tremendous guitar player, but its his knack for songwriting and arranging that keeps me coming back to his records. Lucinda is the queen of songwriting in my book. No one else can portray a picture like her. Shes up there with Tom Waits, Townes and Guy Clark when it comes to words. I wanted a love song on the EP something that came from a feeling of adoration. Its a simple bed of music that her words dance on, but the build of the tune helps portray the yearning for someone. I couldnt be happier with this version. Id like to think Lucinda would enjoy it as well.
The final track on the album, Expectations, is the sole original song on the EP. This is a tune Sarah Siskind and I came up with on a rainy afternoon here in Nashville. We got to talking about relationships. I remember repeating a quote from a friend, saying, you only get what you expect, meaning that if you have expectations about someone close to you, positive or negative, they most likely will come true in your mind.
Erin Rae, whose genre-fusing mix of traditional folk and indie-rock has landed her collaborations with artists like Margo Price and Andrew Combsnot to mention critical acclaim from some of the worlds top music media, including Rolling Stone, NPR, and the BBCis finally stepping out into the spotlight with her new album Putting On Airs. The album is out June 8, 2018 on Single Lock Records.
Buoying the release is Raes reputation as an enthralling live performer, which has earned her the respect of Nashville peers and music notables alike, including Grammy Award winner John Paul White, who has signed her to his Florence, Alabama-based label, Single Lock Records. Rae joins a Single Lock roster that includes Nicole Atkins, St. Paul And The Broken Bones, and White himself, who said When I first heard Erins compelling voice, I knew nothing about her. It was live, with no intro (she was opening for friends of mine), and I was instantly transfixed. I couldnt wait to engage, and thats something I very seldom feel, much less do. I was thrilled to find out her personality was as engaging as her voice and songs, and that she was looking for a home. I couldnt be happier to be hitching our wagons together.
Gifted with the unique ability to fuse musical genres and influences to craft songs that feels fresh and wholly her own, with Putting On Airs, Rae has thrown down a direct challenge to the stereotype of what a Southern singer should be. Both musically and lyrically, she strikes a fiercely independent chord, proudly releasing a deeply personal record that reflects her own experience and upbringing in Tennessee, including the prejudices and injustices that she witnessed as a child that continue to impact her life to this day, including her personal struggle to understand her own sexuality. According to Rae, "this album was born out of a need to do some healing work in my personal life, in order to address some fears and patterns of mine to allow my true feelings to come to the surface."
Recorded in the dead of winter at The Refuge, a historic former Franciscan monastery-turned-creative space on Wisconsins Fox River, the isolated environment created the perfect setting for Erin and her bandmates to track these genre-busting songs, using the chapel and other unique spaces within the cavernous building to explore new sonic boundaries, all while continuing to showcase Erins trademark vocals and the song-serving restraint first heard on her critically-acclaimed 2015 debut album, Soon Enough (engineered and produced by Anderson East and Mike Rinne).
The unique sound of the record is inspired by the innovative 1960s European production techniques from artists like the Beatles and Francoise Hardy, paired alongside the restraint and minimalism of modern artists like Wilco and Richard Hawley, bridging the sonic gap between classic songwriting and a modern indie-rock ethos. The album was co-produced by engineer Dan Knobler (Rodney Crowell, Tift Merritt) and multi-instrumentalist Jerry Bernhardt. Dominic Billett also served an integral role in the collective that worked together to create the albums innovative and varied sonic pallet, providing the perfect soundscape for Erins soothing vocals, bathing everything in the warmth and purity that has become her trademark sound.