Ando Gro has fronted the bands Goldleaf and Colder Than Fargo, and shared stages with such national touring acts as Acoustic Hookah, Fat Mama and Jerry Joseph. He’s also worked with legendary album producer Bill Thomas (George Clinton, Hazel Miller). Ando’s move to go solo was almost born out of necessity. In 2013, floods near his family’s house destroyed the roads leading home and his family moved into his wife’s office for three months.
After a transitional period of pain, acceptance, and questioning, he has emerged with his solo debut, Half Life. “The title refers to the scientific notion of a half-life to signify impermanence,” says Ando, and “how everything is slowly disappearing right in front of us, even when we can’t see it happening.”
Well, Half Life will remind you of the best songs of early 1970’s singer-songwriter catalogs. Ando Gro’s storytelling skills are matched with his signature vocals surrounded by a mostly mellow mix of folk, alternative rock and acoustic alt-pop. It is an intimate, largely personal album of 13 new songs dealing with loss, longing and interpersonal relationships –sometimes sung from Ando’s wife’s point of view.
With a voice as clear as a bell, Ando Gro’s Half Life is a great listen in virtually every cut. From the vibrant and seething “Underneath”, to the beautifully structured harmonies in “Echoing The Sun”, and the unique reverberating title cut “Half Life”, Ando’s album has the intimate feel that only truly gifted musicians can achieve. Close your eyes and you’re in another world listening to his musical poetry. The depth of his songs compared to what passes for music today is a breath of fresh air.
Here we have mid-tempo nuggets like “5050”, bitter-sweet confessions (“Ages”), a gloriously powerful and soulful melody (“All of the People”), and interludes of unmatched tenderness like “Daisy Chain” where Ando Gro in troubadour mode is transcendent, displaying a vulnerability and humanity that warms the deepest recesses of the soul.
The perfect mix of sunshine and shadow, Half Life has a logical flow that glides from one melodic track to the next. The wonderful range of tunes on here is so broad and the feelings so deep that you feel you are almost intruding into the realms of Ando’s mind. Each song careens down a different musical path, heading towards the same destination of articulating a yearning for something not yet known.
In Half Life, Ando Gro speaks to people who have suffered, who feel the difficulty of living, and willingly confront the bittersweet condition of existence. He touches and consoles the listener with his songwriting and musical talent.
The album which is set to be officially released on August 27, 2015, was magnificently produced by Kyle Zender at zendelicious studios.