This is the seventh album from the sporadically prolific, classically troubadour-esque songwriter who nominally calls Baltimore his home. You don’t get as far as releasing this many records, especially in the crowded singer-songwriter pool, without having a certain something about you, and so it’s proved here. ‘Big Wheel And Others’ is a slow, languorous album – a record for a road trip on a sunny day, despite its several dark passages.

‘Sean I’ has a stoned, cloudy-eyed feel, with Dylan-esque vocals and slightly country-ish lyrics sliding over a repetitive two-note riff, and ‘Morning Star’ has overtones of Elliot Smith in both sound and style, but the high point here is ‘The Burning Of The Temple’, which carries echoes of Leonard Cohen. It’s a superbly downbeat song, which if personified would be sitting in a basement bar, its hands cradling a triple whiskey, an inescapable melancholy consuming its soul. Another highlight comes in ‘Joe Murder’, a brooding rock epic with grandiose tendencies and vaguely hippy-ish lyrics, like, “I burn my wallet and purge my soul”.

With such a strong set of influences so evident, you sometimes wonder where McCombs is in all of this, and yet while there’s nothing particularly startling about ‘Big Wheel and Others’, compared to McCombs’ output so far, it’s a record that exudes a quality from start to finish that will see his existing fan suitably pleased.


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