On "Dirty Rain," the first single from Canyons of My Mind, Andrew Combs pondered our fading grasp on consequence – and how, in an age preoccupied with instant gratification and polish in the name of progress, we could be fast approaching a dark, joyless future. Self-awareness and a sensitivity for the world around him is a theme rich across the Nashville-based songwriter's forthcoming third album. And on his newest track, "Blood Hunters," he's taking time to address the fragile relationship we all have with our own psyches. Watch the exclusive premiere of the video above, with a sci-fi vibe that nods to Stranger Things and The Leftovers.
"I wrote 'Blood Hunters' in this post-tour haze, where you don't know what to do with yourself," Combs tells Rolling Stone Country. "It's about mental illness and this unknown force that is making you question everything. It takes 48 hours to acclimate at the end of tour, and it's a weird time when you are in limbo. You get restless."
Directed by Ry Cox, the video for "Blood Hunters" takes that fear of the unknown and puts it into a force tangible enough to look at – and nods at how some things are easier to confront when one returns to a more peaceful, natural state as Combs does, ankle-deep in the Piney River. With backup from Lera Lynn – whose recent album Shape Shifter shares a sense of sonic fearlessness with Canyons – the song opens with Combs' soothingly gorgeous vocals on haunting echo and spare electric guitar that crescendos into a fierce, Seattle-riffed fury. The musical gambit removes it even further away from the constraints of traditional country to forge a more experimental, rock-forward take on folk in the vein of Kevin Morby, Angel Olsen, Cass McCombs or even their forefather, Leonard Cohen.
As is also the case with "Dirty Rain," the video for "Blood Hunters" prominently features children, and Canyons thinks often not only about growing up and settling into different definitions of adulthood, but the future we're paving for our offspring. As a soon-to-be father himself – Combs' wife, Kristin, is pregnant – it's a weight on his mind that is now more personal than ever. "The record was written before the news of the baby," Combs says, "but the videos weren't, and that's definitely something I have been thinking about a lot: bringing up a child in this day and age. Technology, the craziness going on, everything – it's scary times, bringing a child into that." As echoed in the clip, there's a monster looming, though it looks different for all of us: for some, it's 10 stories tall with scales. For others, it's 6'2" with an orange tan and bad comb-over.
Canyons was produced by Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle) and Jordan Lehning (Rodney Crowell) at Battle Tapes Studio in East Nashville, and features appearances from Caitlin Rose, who also co-wrote a song, as well as Erin Rae McKaskle and Lynn. Combs will kick off a tour to support the album, available April 7th via New West, in March.