Andy Shauf: New Music

Let me clarify, new music to me. I was watching this streaming show called Loudermilk, and I heard this haunting, melodic song, lush, almost ethereal. The gentle piano chords instantly settled into my brain.

This should be subtitled: Music for Introverts. The music is highly reflective and feels like is describes those puzzle pieces that look to fit but are a bit obtuse. Almost, but not quite.

Not every often do I react to a song like I did. I had no idea who was playing it or even the name of the song. So, I searched and found the music for the episode of Loudermilk, then I sampled the songs, finding “Twist Your Ankle” by Andy Shauf.

Andy Shauf? That was my reaction too. Never heard of him. I sampled a few more of his songs on YouTube and was shocked at what I heard. Shocked in a good way. Besides “Twist Your Ankle”, I love “To You”, “The Magician” and “Early to the Party”.

Through the library loan program I found the album The Party (2016). It is simply, one of the most engaging albums I have ever heard. I am no audiophile, but I’ve listened to thousands of albums in my lifetime, and this one stuck to my brain like a magnet.

Since the year 2000, I can think of only a handful of albums, including this one, that I feast on from the first song to the last. The melodies are a bit sad but gentle, although several songs are upbeat. Shauf finds chords that remind me of early Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, it must be a Canadian thing. It is easy to write songs that you hear with your ears; harder to write songs you hear with your soul. Paul Simon used to write songs like this before the grandeur of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”.

Andy Shauf is a cross between a 1970s singer/songwriter and a 1990s indie rocker. Early on, he recorded his music at his parents’ house. He plays all the instruments, even the horns, on The Party, except for a few instances of strings.

“I keep reading about these awkward characters at the party, but when I was writing it, I was just thinking that they were normal,” Shauf said in an interview with Canada’s Exclaim magazine. He drew on his own feeling of awkwardness.

He followed up The Party with The Neon Skyline (2020). I find it more adventurous and less intimate than The Party, but still about awkward social situations. Apparently former President Barack Obama likes Shauf and included a song from this album on his playlist.


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