REVIEW: Andrew Combs’ “Ideal Man” is a Collection of Heartfelt Tunes


Andrew Combs’ Ideal Man, his debut release for New West Records, features a collection of heartfelt tunes. Combs’ cadres of collaborators include Sam Cohen (keys, guitar, bass, background voclas), Dominic Billet (drums, background voclas), and Jerry Bernhardt (keys, guitar, bass, background voclas), as well as co-writers John Henry, Dylan LeBlanc, Jeff Trott, Burton Collins, and Kenny Childers. Sam Cohen also produced, recorded, and mixed the record at Jupiter Recording in Brooklyn, New York.

“Stars of Longing,” co-written with Joe Henry, sets the stage for the rest of the record in top form with guitar lines and an aural environment of Aaron Lee Tasjan’s most recent release, Karma for Cheap. Big harmonies reinforce the message, “theirs is only love, only love”. The title track, Ideal Man, moves to daydreams about being what you’re not and maybe what you can’t let yourself become, “I hunger to be the hunter, killing with ease, no conscience to see the difference, in beauty and beast, steady finger on the trigger,“ sings Combs. On “Like a Feather” Combs’ vocal inflections remind one of label mate Robert Ellis. “Can we stay like this forever, together, waltzing across the ground, floating like a feather,” Comb’s sings in soothing tones. “Chitter chatter in the morning, static in the afternoon, the radio is on and humming an apocalyptic tune,” Combs sings on “Save Somebody Else.” He continues with a disarming mellowness that contrasts the lyrical urgency, “I can see the first burning, over off the western slope, at least somebody’s out there trying, squawking on a megaphone”.

“Dry Eyes” strikes with bold drums and glam guitars with just the right amount of fuzz. On “Firestarter” Combs returns to a quieter approach center on acoustic guitar, subtle keys, and an easy backbeat that embraces his repetitive plea, “I don’t want to burn, I don’t want to burn, I don’t want to burn out”. “The mirror in the hall’s given up the ghost, but it’s never been my mind that I miss the most,” the opening line of “Shipwreck Man” paints the picture of a man fading from life. “Shipwreck man with a shaky hand, no anchor to the world, no sight of dry land,” he continues over Beatle-esque harmonies.

“The Stone” plays out like a meditative mantra, as if Combs is trying to convince himself of the truth that, “I’m fine, I’m fine, that’s what I tell myself all the time, all the time I’m inside my head”. One pass through this record reveals that Combs is more than “fine”. Ideal Man finds Andrew Combs in top form on his New West Records debut. If you’ve enjoyed New West releases in the past, then you’re sure to enjoy Andrew Combs’ Ideal Man.

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