Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf has stolen the hearts of many through his album “The Party” (2016) and quite frankly, rightly so. His blend of prairie folk with sophisticated pop, the multi-instrumentalist has a shy air to him, a resemblance to Elliot Smith and story-telling skills like Randy Newman – it’s no surprise many have caught on to the artist from a small place called Saskatchewan.
Early childhood, Andy grew up with a very Christian upbringing, where his musical influence evolved around Sunday mass and a record called “Second Chapter of Acts”, including religious melodic tunes that had in awe for its orchestra composition. Since his parents also ran an electronics and music store, this gave him access to a ton of instruments, which sheds light as to the fantastic use of clarinets, keyboard and other string instruments. It also gave him the ability to take-up a bunch of instruments, vital to the development process of his song-writing on his latest album.
His love of music however took a turn as he started getting older, the Christian side of him creating a conflicting vision on something he had gotten into since the age of 5, having written his first song he says, called “You Got a Friend in Jesus”. Moving on a couple years, he became a drummer in a Christian pop/punk band called Captain until 2006, then releasing two demos, written in his parent’s basement: ‘Darker Days’ (2009) and ‘Waiting For the Sun to Leave’ (2010). His first album ‘The Bearer of Bad News’ (2012) was picked up and released to the masses by the label Tender Loving Empire in 2015, with songs like “You’re Out Wasting” and “Lick Your Wounds” catching the attention of many.
Andy explains how he loves to write songs about characters and on his album “The Party”, he decided for it to be more conversational than descriptive, going into their heads but without physically knowing what they look like. This is reminiscent of Randy Newman, Elliot Smith and Neil Young, with his delicate voice as well as ballad-like acoustics. In a recent interview, Andy expressed the character in “To You” to be his favourite, a story of an earnest drunk guy.
As mentioned before, Andy has grown the skills to play all kinds of instruments, something that he had to do for his latest album as revealed in an interview, to figure out what he wants them to do. By taking control of all aspects of his songs, he’s able to capture the characters, the setting and the direction of the songs in a way that not many artist do. In some sense, you could say this creates a vulnerability to the artist, knowing that he was behind every note played but at the same time, that’s what makes him so fucking great, this is Andy and no one else. This has earned him the hearts of many in Canada and across the world, to best see this, in May, thousands of dollars’ worth of musical equipment was stolen from his tour van. Within less than 24 hours, more than 11,000$ was raised, with nothing to offer in return than his gratitude.
Coming back to his songs, this album is fantastic, the melodies are beautiful, from the grungy acoustic on “Alexander All Alone” to the jumpy piano in “Begin Again”, I love every character and composition. Andy uses a Hofner bass across the songs that is dry and poignant, an add-on to all the various instruments involved on this record. I could quote and talk about every single song but the first one “The Magician”, was simply enough to get me into this artist – this hushed, lyrical genius may not have the most entertaining life but he’s bought a party to my ears and that’s enough for me to want an invite for the next one.