Like a character in a dreary West Coast short story by Raymond Carver, Nashville songwriter Andrew Combs moves through a hazy modern world, trying to find the meaning in life on his sophomore album, All These Dreams. “I sometimes find myself wondering what the hell I am doing with my life and what it all amounts to,” Combs says, explaining the album’s opening track, “Rainy Day Song,” which sets the narrative tone for the album.
“Although I don’t know the answer to this, I believe it lies in the path I take, not the actual destination,” says Combs. “I can’t say whether I’m looking for a god, or love, or art, or all of the above, all I know is I am wading through some murky water trying to find the answer.”
While the album may adhere to this darker internal script, its musical inspiration comes from vintage 1970s production: California-tinged AM Gold; the Laurel Canyon tones of Jackson Browne and The Eagles; and Paul Simon’s Muscle Shoals-laced R&B funk.
And with its sweeping string arrangements and sophisticated charm, the album evokes other earlier eras, like 1960s Hollywood or Roy Orbison-era Nashville Sound. Listeners may also hear the faint glimmer of male vocalists like Jim Reeves, Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb, perhaps even Frank Sinatra.
All of it amounts to a huge step forward for the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who released his debut album, Worried Man, in 2012, which American Songwriter named one of the year’s best, while Southern Living praised Combs for being “well on his way to becoming a preeminent voice in his genre.”
For the new album, Combs worked with producers Jordan Lehning and Skylar Wilson — who recently co-produced Caitlin Rose’s The Stand-In and have worked with Justin Townes Earle — and recorded the album in Nashville with many of his longtime musical collaborators, including lead guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal steel guitarist Spencer Cullum Jr. (of the instrumental duo Steelism).
“I feel like this record has a much different thread that ties the songs together than my first album, Worried Man, which was more raw and bare-bones, in songwriting as well as production,” says Combs. “All These Dreams explores more complex arrangements, lyrics and musical tones.
With straight-talking narrators and glimpses of poetic realism, All These Dreams at times might recall the gritty Southern literature of writers like Larry Brown and Barry Hannah, both of whom Combs cites as influences. On “Pearl,” the songwriter celebrates the underbelly of society, while on “Suwannee County,” his narrator strikes up a mundane conversation with a Florida fisherman at a gas station, which leads to a deeper discussion about spirituality.
There’s plenty of dark humor here too. On “Strange Bird,” Combs sings about an elusive lover, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, and uses a buoyant arrangement to explore some unusual musical effects, such as a whistling solo.
Combs has been identified with a new crop of Nashville-based songwriters, who have also looked back to the ’70s for songwriting inspiration. Combs is featured in the upcoming documentary Heartworn Highways Revisited, alongside Nashville-based songwriters like John McCauley, Jonny Fritz and Robert Ellis — as well as one of his heroes, Guy Clark.
While he acknowledges his debt to fellow Texans like Clark, Mickey Newbury and Townes Van Zandt, Combs is also moving in a new direction, carving out his own singular path as an artist. The 28-year-old songwriter is also quick to point out that though there is a similar sense of camaraderie in Nashville today, “The songs and writers were much better in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”
“I’m not saying there aren’t talented people in Nashville now, but I don’t think we pay near as much attention to the song as they did back then,” adds Combs. “Maybe it’s ’cause we’re too busy tweeting about our latest gig or wardrobe purchase.”
Ultimately, All These Dreams finds Combs in a league of his own, wholly focused on perfecting his own songwriting and storytelling, and delivering it all in a rich musical style that’s much more than the sum of its parts.
Lightning 100 was pretty excited to get Sturgill Simpson on Nashville Sunday Night. Sturgill quickly sold out two nights over at 3rd and Lindsley. Nashville Sunday Night is WRLT’s oldest running live broadcast featuring national and local talent.
Sturgill performs tracks from his critically acclaimed debut High Top Mountain and captivating and unique sophomore album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Click here to listen to the full concert.
Local Artist of the week Andrew Combs - Foolin’ – All These Dreams
Hammel - Dead Deads Wells - Joshua Black Wilkins - Late Night Talks – Settling The Dust
This Just In Jessie Baylin – Black Blood – Dark Place (Out on April 7th – Grimeys 6pm- 3rd & Lindsley April 11th) Jake Shane – The All Night Boys – Evening Sounds Pilot Rouge – So Much More
Live in the LC studios Justin Klump (Playin’ The Basement on Wednesday 3/11/15, Musicians Corner Presents) Justin Klump (Live) – Sticks and Stones Justin Klump – Ghost Town (Single out 3/10/15)
Bands Around Town Jeff The Brotherhood – Six Pack ( Playin’ Live Saturday 3/14/15 at Exit/In “Freakin’ Weekend VI) Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires – I Follow Rivers (Amanda Shires playin’ live Saturday 3/14/15 at 3rd & Lindsley w/ Sean McConnell and Ben Danaher) Easy Roscoe – Alright Regine (Playin’ Live Tuesday 3/9/15 at The Basement)
Laura Reed stopped to debut a few tunes with producer Shannon Sanders. Laura just released The Awakening on vinyl. Check out this video performance of “Wake Up” and “Struggle” live on 100.1 FM. If you want to hear more from Laura Reed, click here to listen to the full audio interview.
It all started over four years ago as a solo visual music project led by singer-songwriter Ben Schneider. After moving out to LA to pursue a career in visual arts, Schneider quickly found that his passion for music was leading him in a slightly different creative direction. In 2010, Schneider took a week off from his life in Los Angeles to return to his home state of Michigan. He recorded several songs during his stay at Lake Huron, and created the visuals for what would later act as the artwork for his newest project. Realizing that he needed a band, Schneider called up all of the musicians that he knew, which included a group of his childhood friends from Okemos.
While his visual artwork may have taken a backseat to his music, his artistic background continues to have a huge influence on his albums. Over the years, he’s found that the two passions seem to complement one another. In an interview with Songwriting Magazine, he explains how he developed images to accompany the music while he was in the process of writing new songs.
Growing up, Schneider had an interest in world music as well as American folk music. He credits artists such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young as musical influences. Lord Huron’s newest single, “Fool For Love,” tells the tale of a man fighting to win a woman’s heart. The lyrics depict the heartache and hopefulness that come with the pursuit of love. “I’m leaving this place behind, and I’m heading out on the road tonight,” sings lead vocalist Ben Schneider. “Before I commence my ride, I’m askin’ Lily to be my bride.” The full-length album, “Strange Trails,” is set to be released on April 7th, 2015.
Lucie Silvas stops by the studio before her show at Soulshine Pizza for Friday Afternoon Live. Check out this performance with Lightning 100’s local artist of the week performing her single “Letters to Ghost”. Lucie Silvas also performs “How to Lose It All” from her self-titled EP and a cover of “You Got It” by Roy Orbison.
Grammy nominated artist Bernhoft joins us in the LC studio before his show at The High Watt. Jarle Bernhoft is a multi-instrumentalist from Norway. Bernhoft performs “Come Around” and “Esiwalk” from his recent release Islander. Are you amazed at Jarle’s looping skills?
Local Artist of the week Lucie Silvas - Letters To Ghosts Dj Picks
Hammel - Shady Sister - Second Guesses – Always The Same Wells - Elliot Root – Punks And Poets – EP2
This Just In Music Band - I Was Like Jackie Gray – Addicted To You – Gray Skies Phin – Pieces
Live in the LC studios The guys from Project 615
Wild Cub (Live) – Thunder Clatter
Bands Around Town- Andrew Combs – Foolin’ – All These Dreams (CD release show at The Basement Thursday 3/4/15) Sol Cat – Fishing With John (Playin’ Live Tuesday 3/3/15 at The High Watt w/ Desert Noises) Odessa - Hummed Low – Odessa EP (Playin’ Live Friday at Exit/In w/ Lone Bellow) Goodbye June - Daisy ( Playin’ Live Tuesday 3/315 at The Basement w/ Earl Burrows, Boys On The Radio, & Silent War) Desert Noises – Mice In The Kitchen (Playin’ Live Tuesday 3/3/15 at The High Watt w/ Sol Cat)
Lucie Silvas’ new self-titled EP is out now on Furthestpoint Records viaCaroline. In celebration of the release, Silvas will perform a special show with James Bay at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on March 16. Additional tour dates to be announced shortly.
The 5-song EP was recorded in Nashville and was produced by Silvas, John Osborne (Brothers Osborne) and Ian Fitchuk (Mindy Smith, Griffin House). Of the new material, Silvas comments, “While I am so involved both emotionally and personally with each song, individually, on the entire album, I really think the EP is a solid sign and a great sampling of what is to follow on the full length release. These songs all really belong together—more than I ever thought they would. Every bit of everything I’ve got in myself went into this music; the energy, the emotion and the story. Writing and making an album with all the people I love was the only thing that made it possible. I never felt the same freedom to tell the truth about myself before—the good and bad— and that’s the only way I want to make music, from a genuine place. Every artist and musician I’ve been inspired by has influenced the sound of this record and many people that have come in and out of my life inspired the stories.”
Born in London, raised in New Zealand and now calling Nashville home, Silvas has enjoyed massive critical and commercial acclaim since she debuting at age 17—selling over 1 million albums in Europe alone and achieving success as both a musician and songwriter. She has also shared the stage with numerous acclaimed artists, including Elton John, Jamie Cullum, Lionel Richie, Kacey Musgraves, Tom Jones and Jamiroquai.
Where you lucky enough to get tickets to Punch Brothers sold out show at Ryman Auditorium? Lightning 100 had the guys back into the LC studio to debut a few new songs off their recent release The Phosphorescent Blues. Listen to the full interview below or watch the HD in-studio videos from the band. Want more in-studio videos from Punch Brothers? We’ve also got videos from “Rye Whiskey“, “You Are“, “Patchwork Girlfriend” and “Movement and Location“.
Episode139. the615 2/23/15
Local Artist of the week Waterfall Wash - Foreign Chords – Foreign Chords Dj Picks
Hammel - Adam Faucett – Walking Home Late – Blind Water Finds Blind Water Wells - Trent Dabbs – Goes Without Saying – Believer
This Just In Humming House – Great Divide (coming out March 24th) Vitek – Gloss – Eunoia Cheyenne Medders – Coffin’s Nail – Day Stood Still
Live in the LC studios
Vespers – New record out now! Sisters And brothers The Vespers (Live) – Signs The Vespers ( Live) – Sisters And Brothers
Bands Around Town- Magnolia Sons – Baby That’s You (Playin’ Live Friday 2/27/15 at Mercy Lounge w/ Alanna Royale, Allen Thompson Band and Shannon Labrie) Simo – What’s On Your Mind (Playin’ Live Saturday 2/28/15 at The High Watt) Reno Bo – There’s a Light (Playin’ Live Friday 2/27/15 at The 5 Spot w/ Sadler Vaden & Great Peacock)
Waterfall Wash is a quirky, catchy mesh of folk, gospel, and indie rock. The five-piece lets steel guitar and autoharp coexist alongside colorful layers of synthesizer, glockenspiel, and three-part vocal harmonies.
With an air of unpredictability, Waterfall Wash’s live show experiments with alternate arrangements of their songs. The band has opened for indie folk powerhouse Lord Huron, as well as Bonnaroo standouts EL EL, Kansas Bible Company, and Ranch Ghost. Following a performance at the East Nashville Underground festival, No Country For New Nashville noted Waterfall Wash have “consistently impressed, showcased a dynamic and ever-expanding range, and have matured into one of the best up and coming live acts in town.”
The sound of Foreign Chords has attracted the attention of Nashville folk revivalists as well as fans of rock, gospel and even pop punk. In 2013 and 2014, the Wash ran the gamut of Nashville venues and festivals, including East Nashville Underground, Mercy Lounge, Tomato Fest, Capitol District Street Fair, 5 Spot, fooBAR and more.
Their debut EP, Foreign Chords, was mixed at Burning Bridge Recordings in the latter months of 2014 and released to the world on January 27, 2015. It is available on Soundstamp, Bandcamp and iTunes.
Local rockers Turbo Fruits stopped by the studio to debut two new tracks off their upcoming release No Control. Their fourth album will drop on 4/20/15. Check out “The Way I Want You” and “No Reason to Stay” live from the LC studio! Turbo Fruits will be playing a free show for record store day at The Basement East.
After their recent debut on Family Guy, Guster stopped by the studio to debut some new songs off their latest release Evermotion. Check out Guster performing “Simple Machine” and “Long Night” live at LC studio. What do you think of the new tracks? Let us know in a comment below if you want to hear these tunes on Lightning 100.
Punch Brothers stop by the LC studio to performing some new tunes off their recent release The Phosphorescent Blues. Click here to listen to the full interview and performance of “I Blew It Off” and “Boll Weevil”.
Check out Jesse Nordstom’s first official Lightning 100 interview. Some people start small, but Jesse starts with a backstage at Ryman Auditorium with Trampled by Turtles. Find out what life on the road is like for TbT, the process of recording their recent release Wild Animals, pros and cons of music festivals, and their favorite hip hop. Hope you enjoy!
Last year, musicians Marty O’Reilly, Chris Lynch and Jeff Kissell all quit their day jobs. They collectively decided to pursue music full time after joining a 6-week tour throughout Europe that included 28 shows in 35 days. By combining a passion for Delta Blues, American Folk and Gospel, the band hopes to capture the authenticity and energy of a live performance in their recordings.
All three members met in Santa Cruz, California and began playing together at various coffee shops around town. Lead singer Marty O’Reilly grew up playing a lot of jazz and classical music. After accidentally downloading a recording by “Blind” Willie Johnson, he fell in love with gospel music and the blues. The group considers themselves a very live-oriented band that thrives off of crowds and the ability to improvise onstage.
Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra debuted their album “Pray For Rain” in 2014 and currently have several upcoming shows scheduled for this year.
JD McPherson grew up wanting to be a visual artist. While music was always a significant part of his life, he had never planned on turning it into a career. He graduated from the University of Tulsa with an M.F.A in open media; a degree he was able to design specifically for his creative interests.
McPherson grew up in the rural town of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. As a kid, he was introduced to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Buddy Holly. He found that he was most influenced by rhythm and blues artists, as well as traditional rock n’ roll. It was then that he decided to set out to create an album that would mix together what he loved about the rhythm & blues and rock n’ roll, while still remaining relevant to this generation’s listeners.
The inspiration for his new song, “Let the Good Times Roll,” came from a long and uncomfortable night of cold medication and “Frasier” re-runs. McPherson recalls that he was home sick and watching an episode where the character Niles Crane finds a skull beneath the floorboards of his home. For an unknown reason, the scene seemed to have struck a chord with him. In a recent interview he states that, “It’s hard to explain, but time seemed to slow down and I had this mental clarity and focus I definitely do not usually possess. It was a terrible feeling. I wrote the song from start to finish, lyrics, melody and everything, lying there, sweating and suffering, staring at Niles Crane holding a skull on the television screen.” Similar to his music, the songs title, “Let the Good Times Roll,” seems to have an abstract meaning as well. He explains that, “It’s like a Pavlovian reaction to hear that phrase and feel like you’re supposed to have a good time.”
McPherson is set to debut his new album, “Let the Good Times Roll,” early next week.
Longley has a gift for culling musical treasures as though straight from thin air. And now, the Berklee College of Music graduate and award-winning songwriter is set to share them with listeners on her self-titled album—her first after signing with Sugar Hill Records in December 2014.
While Longley’s songs and vocals invite complimentary comparisons to Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole and Nanci Griffith—all artists she’s supported live—her latest effort spotlights a style and confidence that’s all her own. You can hear it in the subtle-yet-soaring vocals on “Memphis,” the dagger directness of “Skin and Bones,” the bittersweet farewell that drives “This Is Not the End” (featured in the 2012 season finale of Lifetime’s Army Wives). They’re all cuts that dare you to hold back the goosebumps.
In fact, Longley’s singing never fails to thrill and enthrall. Her voice and tone, touched with the slightest of country inflections, pours out like clean, crystalline water. Still, she can roar like a waterfall or flow effortlessly along the bed her backing band lays down, as on “Peace of Mind.” The track showcases Longley yearning after silence and stillness to beat back demons of self-doubt.
The new songs grew amidst a period of transition and travel in her life; moving between Boston and New York before finally settling in Nashville, and spending much of her life on the road in a succession of minivans. To that end, the songs have been road tested at Longley’s live shows, their power to connect with fans beyond question.
These numbers pack the punch of pages torn from Longley’s journal. And fans have rewarded her transparency with tangible loyalty. For while many acts have no clue how an album will be received, Longley started her project knowing just how much her fans wanted her to succeed.
It’s like this: Her Kickstarter campaign, which set $35,000 as an album-funding goal, exceeded that amount by nearly 60 percent, raising $55,000. “We reached the mark so quickly and I’m just really, really lucky to be connected to my fans,” she says. “ I feel like they’ve adopted me—like I have this big supportive family.”
And to that end, Longley confides with you as though you’re sitting on the sofa with her in a talk that’s intimate and vulnerable. “Bad Habit” strides the valley road of heartbreak, its pounding toms and plaintive electric guitar providing an ideal frame for Longley’s vocal, the very portrait of love’s rock bottom: “I couldn’t stand the smell of smoke ’til he lit that cigarette/ Never felt the temptation ’til I smelled it on his breath.”
“I wrote it after dating a guy who had a lot of bad habits, and somehow he became my bad habit,” Longley recalls. “He was just one of those people—a smoker and a drinker who also had a habit of cheating. When I broke up with him and wrote the song, it was hugely therapeutic for me. It cleansed him from my system. And when I started playing it live, I realized that so many others had toxic people in their lives.”
Why write and sing songs so transparent and confessional? For Longley, it boils down to the simple truth of authenticity. “I just try to be myself,” she says. “If I feel like a song is not genuine to me, I absolutely do not present it because people see right through it. It’s all about the honesty, and I try not to overthink it—then it would lose some of the magic.”
Longley first felt the magic while growing up outside of Philadelphia. A song she wrote in ninth grade—her first ever—earned a standing ovation when she performed it for the student body: “I was unprepared for that sort of reaction and it was life-changing moment,” she says. “That’s when I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.”
The track record she’s assembled since shows just how much Longley grew into her dream. She’s taken home top prizes at some of the most prestigious songwriting competitions in the country, including the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Competition, the International Acoustic Music Awards and the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest Songwriting Competition.
But it all traces straight back to Longley’s first song. She says she’ll continue to open her soul in the service of her art because that’s what matters most to her. “Every time I get into these songs they resonate with me, lock with me, because they’re based on something I went through,” she says of the new collection. “I hope they connect with people and that they’ll help with whatever they’ve gone through. That’s what music does for me, and I hope I can do that for someone else.”
After all, what better way to fill an empty room than with fully realized music?