Grover Anderson & the Lampoliers
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Grover Anderson & the Lampoliers

Murphys, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016 | SELF

Murphys, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter




"Grover Anderson - All the Lies That I Have Told Review"

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 Told—was 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! - Fervor Coulee

"Grover Anderson, Storyteller Extraordinaire"

Sometimes sounds just feel right, like a crackling fire spreading warmth through the soul on a snowy winter night, or a sun burning daylight down on tall pines, or mountain tops glowing in the darkness. Grover Anderson taps into those sounds. With The Frontman, Anderson returns to the gold rush hills of his Americana roots in Calaveras County on his follow up to 2017’s From the Pink Room.

Grover Anderson and The Lampoliers (Marshall Henry – guitars, organ; Anthony Delaney – bass; Josh Certo – percussion) bring eight songs to life with lush, majestic beauty. The backing band craft the foundation of this storyteller’s saga of life and love, while an array of guests color tracks shifting through folk, country and Americana.

Wandering into The Frontman, “The Good” brings on a sense of ease and comfort with each note. This is no-pretense traveling music, as the violin and authentic songwriter vocals bring to mind the great Glen Campbell (“Wichita Lineman”) who painted soundscapes that surpassed the confines of genre. Austin Broder (of The Risky Biscuits) lends his fiddle to the composition. I’m not a huge fan of country music, but If that song is country music, I am definitely a fan of that.

Anderson lays the lyrical imagery and wit on thick in “Standing Water.” The musical poetry with twang sounds like Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real. Henry’s guitar soars perfectly, leaving space for guest Chelsea Sue to sprinkle in a feminine vocal touch. “Parallel” welcomes guest Kiel Williams (of The Risky Biscuits) on pedal steel. Tangible angst bleeds through simple words. Uncluttered, this cut has room to feel pain. Most everyone has known a broken heart and the space left between two hearts that once beat together.

In the world of storytelling, each chapter has its perfect place. Sequencing plays an integral part in The Frontman. Uptempo redemption breathes on the rapturous symphony of “Evergreen.” Joining Anderson’s vocal with Nathan Semprebon’s (of The Risky Biscuits) is genius, plain and simple. Broder’s fiddle joins Jimbo Scott (of Poor Man’s Whiskey) on this gem. Reminiscent of Jason Isbell’s textural “Last of My Kind” from 2017’s The Nashville Sound, this track combines the best of Americana, roots and country into something cool.

A soft resting place, “On Comfort” brings back images of great singer-songwriters like James Taylor who needed few words and less time to say what needed to be said. This acoustic flicker is not to be underestimated. Wandering towards the end of a rich record, fourteen-year-old Joshua Swank plays cello alongside Broder’s fiddle on “The Archives.” The vocal delivery brings Glen Campbell back to life again. This time, however, this song haunts the soul on another level as each metaphor unfolds. Each note speaks volumes, reinforcing the musician’s vision.

“Wasps” features guests Nate Nathan on piano and Williams on electric guitar. The band delivers a honky-tonk vibe and a downhome groove, but this ain’t no “tears in my beer” country tune. Instead it’s more of a “throw your dog in the truck with the kids and ease on down the road, it’ll be alright” sort of track. Closing out with the title track, “The Frontman” is brilliant. Grover Anderson and The Lampoliers really want to leave an honest impression of who they are as a band.

Anderson is a storyteller extraordinaire. In From the Pink Room, Anderson told his fans how this troubadour got his wish. Now, The Frontman gives listeners an idea of how the view has changed after stepping into the sun. This album makes me curious to hear what happens next with Anderson’s work.–Lisa Whealy - Independent Clauses

"Two Excellent Acoustic Albums: Little Chief / Grover Anderson"

It’s a common problem that bands will find a sound they’re good at and hit it until their audience is just sick of it. Grover Anderson handles that problem by playing songs in vastly different genres, somehow managing to avoid sounding like a tourist or faker in any of them. Frantic murder ballads, love ballads, jilted lover electric blues, back-porch pickathon shout-it-outs, brilliant country tunes, and downtempo minimalist all hang out on The Optimist. It’s a credit to Anderson’s skills that each of them sounds natural. It makes for an odd listening experience as a collection of tunes (multiple people die, multiple people get married–sometimes in close quarters), but each individual song is worthwhile.

Given my personal predilections, I’m more interested in the bluegrassy “Pick Up Your Horn” and the Bon Iver-esque “Grindstone” than in the Mraz-style love songs “When You Come Near” and “Enough.” But the gentle fingerpicking of breakup tune “Dancing Slow” calls to mind the weighty work of Ray LaMontagne, which seems to be the antithesis of Jason Mraz in my mind.

All of this love in stark contrast to “The Lampolier” and “Philip Marshall Cates,” both of which are intense murder ballads, the likes of which I haven’t heard in a very long time. To start with, “The Lampolier” is an incredible piece of lyricism, as Anderson puts together an intriguing, eerie story through a very structured rhyme scheme. Amid this complexity, Lampolier delivers a masterful vocal performance that sees him ratchet from a gentle speak/sing to outright desperate hollering. I still get shivers when Anderson roars wordless distress three minutes in. The band is a runaway coal train behind him, pressing the song forward to its inevitable end. It’s the single and the opener, and it doesn’t take many brain cells to decide that both were excellent decisions. “Philip Marshall Cates” isn’t as electric in its convictions, but it’s another death ballad that sits in stark contrast to the love songs.

Also, “Little Spoon” is my favorite love song released this year. Some love songs are huge, sweeping announcements of love–others focus on the little, pedestrian parts of love that make it so wonderful, like drinking Blue Moons together, spooning, and spending time together. Anderson’s tune is the latter.

So Anderson’s got a ton going on in this album, being a lot of things to a lot of people. But no matter who you are, it’s hard to ignore that Anderson’s songwriting skill is great. I look forward to seeing how he adapts and focuses his skills in upcoming work (or not). If you’re into people who play acoustic guitars, Grover Anderson has something for you. - Independent Clauses


All the Lies That I Have Told  2021

  1. Willie Nelson
  2. Backseat Chorus
  3. From a Golden State
  4. The Gardener
  5. Amazon Song
  6. In the Nighttime
  7. Tom Horn
  8. Man From the Train
  9. Icarus

The Frontman  2019

  1. The Good
  2. Standing Water
  3. Parallel
  4. Evergreen
  5. On Comfort
  6. The Archives
  7. Wasps
  8. Frontman

The Optimist  2014

  1. Sick of You
  2. The Lampolier
  3. Enough
  4. Pick Up Your Horn
  5. When You Come Near
  6. Dancing Slow
  7. Philip Marshall Cates
  8. Save the World
  9. Handle the Lonely
  10. Grindstone
  11. Little Spoon

Tourniquet  2011

  1. Moonshine (ft. Samantha Free)
  2. Boulder
  3. Both Broken
  4. The Downside
  5. Westward
  6. Enemy
  7. Were Not a Very Good Band
  8. Living in Mono (Live at Soho)



At first glance, Grover Anderson looks like the kind of guy who’ll drip with earnestness and leave you aggressively “whelmed.” But then you’ll start listening to the stories he has to tell—the adventurers decimated by ambition, the desperate attempts by the broken to play it cool, the extended metaphors that aren’t as sweet as they initially seem. Sure, he’s got love songs—his signature one is called “Sick of You,” and there’s another that’s probably not actually about bootleg liquor. And don’t worry, he’s trying to lighten up on the murder ballads; his latest album, All The Lies That I Have Told, received rave reviews despite its relatively modest body count of 13. So yeah, Grover’s quite earnest. But try to stay on your toes.

Whether you find his writing wicked or charming, there’s no denying Grover is a product of California’s Calaveras County, following in the wry footsteps of Mark Twain (who wrote his most famous short story there). He often performs with his band The Lampoliers. (A “lampolier” is a soul-devouring demon who dwells in abandoned mines and is probably not a word that Grover made up.) You might have seen him at Alaska’s Salmonfest, the Tucson Folk Festival, or headlining Hermitfest in the Sierra Nevadas. Perhaps you caught him opening for Birds of Chicago, The Charlie Daniels Band, or America. Or maybe you’ve been to one of his sold-out shows in Calaveras County. If not, it's time to remedy that!

Band Members