Video Premiere: James Combs “Until This Old Wave Rolls By”

Photo credit Karen Combs

With foot-stomping percussion, rhythmic humming, powerful and melodic vocal meandering and a dose of twang, James Combs delivers an engaging new song, ‘Until This Old Wave Rolls By’.  It’s a song of resistance and perseverance, an affirming song of strength and, ultimately, it’s a hopeful song for a better future.  Undoubtedly, the song’s highlight is the excellent vocal combination of Combs and his sister April Mann.

Combs says of the song: “Until This Old Wave Rolls By’ is a song about holding still. When you’ve lived awhile, you know that when calamity strikes society, sometimes the best thing to do is just lay low and let the wave pass. So this is a defiant song, a declaration of knowing how to stay strong, stay engaged, and handle crazy times. I filmed the trees and background nature all over southern and central CA in my travels over the last few months – Morro Bay, Idyllwild, Paso Robles… I am always marvelling at the beauty of California. Still having access to the natural wonders here had a lot to do with my ability to make it through covid times so far with my head on relatively straight. I was blessed to have the vocal and visual help of my sister April Mann, who is one of the best artists I know. Her Goldenthread music is incredible. We have been collaborating on and off for many years now and I am thrilled to have her vocals on four songs from ‘Falling Under Spells’, including ‘Until This Wave Rolls By’.”

The single is taken from the brand new album ‘Falling Under Spells’, which was written during the strange, uncertain times we’ve all lived through during the pandemic.  Combs explains how it all came together: “Faced with untold lockdown days, I found myself in my studio with a head full of melodies, sounds, and lyric ideas. The songs came fast and furious. Songs about protest marches and true believers and going nowhere fast and wild dance parties in safer times. Songs for my wife and son. Songs for my friends. Songs for my achin’ head.  Then I thought, while we’re all stuck, maybe I can get the best musicians I know to help me decorate these songs. So I asked and they stepped up, big time. Friends like GRAMMY-winner John Would (Fiona Apple), guitar virtuoso Paul Lacques (I See Hawks In LA), magic singers April Mann and Kelly Atkins, drum ace Matt Hergert, badass professors Wendy Kline (violin) and Joe Hellerstein (trumpet) all brought the spark.  Each time a new bass or horn or harmony vocal part rolled in, it was like adding another drawer or window to this fancy cabin I was building. Somehow this band of stellar players from around the country had perfect group radar for the kind of music I wanted to make – personal, poetic songs rooted in classic American song-writing but with adventurous tendrils. A desert folk dobro part here, a Chet-Baker trumpet solo there, a distorted bass line here, a rich group choral arrangement there. These speed-written songs, sprung from folk bones but orchestrated with many colours, burst into life piece by piece.  Now the result of all this devotion, love and labour is here before you. It’s real and true. I think it is the best record I have made. I hope you feel it, too.”  The new album is Combs’ fifth solo record, building on his impressive body of work with Great Willow and fresh from his collaboration with the highly-regarded I See Hawks in LA.  His career has also taken in a BBC Peel Session, a Lollapalooza and a co-written song that featured in True Blood, sung by Iggy Pop/Best Coast.  There’s a bit of everything to be found on the album: inspired by various genres, it’s full of soulful songs with heart and harmonies.  Enjoy.


About Andrew Frolish 1435 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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