MJ Lenderman is a songwriter born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. The anatomy of an MJ record might go something like this: warped pedal steels and skuzzed out guitar; a voice reminiscent of the high-lonesome warble of a choirboy; the keen observations and reflections of a front stoop philosopher. Songs snake their way from a lo-fi home recording to something glossier made with longtime friends at Asheville’s Drop of Sun studios, but the recording setting doesn’t seem to matter much – at its core, a Lenderman song rings true.
These are stories about everything from a relationship disintegrating outside the high-end butcher shop to a sighting of football star Dan Marino at the local Harris Teeter; from a love song built around a t-shirt kiosk at the airport, or the malaise of a grill rusting in the rain. And those are just some of the things you might find across his three solo records: MJ Lenderman (2019), Ghost of Your Guitar Solo (2021), and break-through acclaimed studio debut, Boat Songs (2022). Lenderman’s songwriting is simple and true, stories delivered with a loping, easy vibe - a shrug of the shoulders, off-the-cuff guitar riffs fuzzy, a tangle of pedal steel and rock ‘n’ roll distortion culminating in alt-country cacophony. An MJ Lenderman song feels like a postcard from a hazy memory, the unpredictable bits and details that end up sticking – bird songs from the rafters of a hardware store, a real good Bob Dylan cover – and what make a story whole.