Andy Shauf’s songs sound like slightly rumpled twentieth-century classics, evoking the flowing melodic sense, the gentle, open arrangements, and the closely observed storytelling of a Paul Simon or a Joni Mitchell, sweetened with the adorable orchestration of this century’s Canadian indie-pop. But like all true classics, the Saskatchewan-born, Toronto-based singer-songwriter, whose original voice has been recognized via Juno and Polaris nominations and a coveted placement on Barack Obama’s playlist, leaves inimitable fingerprints all over the tried and true forms.
Music can be a lonely place—especially for Shauf, who writes, arranges, plays, and produces every part on his records, from guitars to woodwinds. Perhaps that’s why he fills it with friends, enemies, passers-by, and the funny things they said and did. Each of Shauf’s last two albums for ANTI- narrates the events of a single night: The Party circulates like a gadfly among guests at a house party, while the protagonist of The Neon Skyline, whose ex is in town, embarks from a real-life Toronto bar on an odyssey of heartache and insight.“
Shauf has a superb ear for the rhythm of conversations and the inner lives of people whose ambitions never grew enough to take them out of the confines of their hometown,” AllMusic said, while Pitchfork heard shades of a modern Raymond Carver, saying that “Andy Shauf writes songs full of drinking and dancing, deep conversation and inside jokes, close friends and old flames—and he’s having a miserable time.” True, but the pleasure is ours.