Grover Anderson & The Lampoliers- All the Lies That I Have Told review

Grover Anderson & the Lampoliers All the Lies That I Have Told

Some albums are made to be played loud.

Frampton Comes Alive. Check.

Motörhead, Ace of Spades. Duh!

Beauty and the Beat. All day long.

Grover Anderson & the Lampoliers All the Lies That I Have Told—surprisingly, yes.

I say ‘surprisingly’ because…

I’ve been listening to the album fairly regularly for a couple months, usually on small portable stereos in the office or the den, and in the car. I’ve fully enjoyed it. But now that the stereo is reassembled within the Bluegrass Bunker, and release date is approaching, I thought—time to write.

The stereo’s volume was up a little as I had previously been playing Groove & Grind, Rare Soul ’63-’73 so I was in for a bit of a blast as the by-now familiar opening, vocal notes to “Willie Nelson” came firing out of the speakers.

And they sounded completely different from when played at lower volume. Better. Much better. I decided to keep things elevated and sat back to have Grover Anderson & the Lampoliers blow me away.

And, they did.

Song after song, small town memory after literate anecdote, personal insight to universal truth—the music kept coming, sounding better with each song. I don’t typically listen to ‘singer-songwriter’ music terribly loud—usually, it doesn’t need or benefit from it. This album does—Steve Earle’s Dukes circa Copperhead Road didn’t sound much bigger than this quartet from the Sierra Nevada community of Murphys, CA.

A cover of The Tallest Man on Earth’s “The Gardner,” “In the Nighttime,” and “Backseat Chorus”—three very different songs are powerful band performances. “Backseat Chorus’s” key refrain, “May our spirits stay freewheeling as our grasp upon the words” is mysterious, poetic, and hopeful as the protagonist sings of troubadour philosophy. “In the Nighttime” gives the Lampoliers—Marshall Henry (guitars, keyboards, vocals), Anthony Delaney (bass), and Josh Certo (drums, percussion)—to open ‘er up more than a little.

One of several standout numbers is the lead track, “Willie Nelson.” An engaging and emotional duet with Kelly Jane, it is an ideal modern (not ‘that’ kind of modern) country song, sharing and trading lines and verses following the break-up, realization and understanding of what has been shared (including the naming of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” as ‘their’ song) and the aftermath of decisions made.

A challenge—writing from the perspective of an unsettled fourteen year-old girl—is met within “From a Golden State,” one of the album’s strongest and most universal numbers; we’ve all felt isolated within the crowd, an alien amongst peers and circumstance. The cascading instrumental contributions of Austin Broder (violin) and Kiel Williams (co-writer, producer of this single track, as well as guitar, pedal steel, cello, synth, and keyboards) takes the song into territory I don’t believe Anderson has previously ventured.

Circumstances surrounding the Wyoming trial of “Tom Horn” is recounted; as might an Ian Tyson, Tom Russell, or Nanci Griffith, Anderson nicely puts this hero-less, frontier history to song. Injustice is examined within “Man From the Train,” another song on which The Lampoliers rock hard, while “Amazon Song” is an insightful character study of the realities of responsibility, economic drudgery, and political injustice.

As a bonus, a radio edit of “Willie Nelson” is included on the CD as is a resolute cover of Robert Earl Keen’s ubiquitous Americana-classic, “Feelin’ Good Again.”

In a relative short period of time, Grover Anderson has become one of my favourite contemporary singer-songwriters. His previous album with The Lampoliers, last year’s Live at the Harvard Mixer Ball, Vol. 1— featuring two songs from All the Lies That I Have Toldwas wonderful, a terrific introduction to what Anderson brings as a frontman.

Co-produced by Anderson and Henry, this album solidifies positive impression; Grover Anderson may not be the ‘next big thing’ to hit the Americana mainstream, but he and The Lampoliers are definitely deserving of our sustained attention.

Crank it!

2 thoughts on “Grover Anderson & The Lampoliers- All the Lies That I Have Told review

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