Tuesday Is For Tunes: Andy Shauf

Darker Days, the 2009 release from Andy Shauf has been the soundtrack to my life, since it somewhat serendipitously came into my possession two weeks ago. It’s restless and wistful, filled with all the sentiments that come with being the strange, in between age of neither kid nor adult. These are songs about honest self-reflection, learning to let go, and reconciling the realities of life. In the great tradition of folk music, they are told through poignant stories, and moments of clarity described in beautiful detail. Embellished with only small flourishes of handclaps, twangy electric guitar, banjo, and harmonica, Andy Shauf delivers a lot more than your standard singer-songwriter, ‘guy with an acoustic guitar’ fare.

With skillful musicianship and resonate vocals, Andy Shauf crafts Darker Days into an intimate listening experience. Not to get too nerdy here, but the first time I really listened to him was at a house show, so I find it just as easy to compare his style to Shubert’s chamber music as to Elliot Smith. Andy Shauf’s performance was like an unceremonious confessional made in the company of friends brought together by mutual music appreciation. His music created an atmosphere of sincerity that was palpable. Wonderfully, the production on the album manages to capture that essence. Tinges of reverb, scratched strings, a count in to start a song, and even Andy Shauf’s Canadian accent all lend the album a personal feel, all the more perfect for the humanity of its tiny human errors.

I’ve been listening to Darker Days in its entirety on repeat, and it is simply so consistently solid that I cannot give a full review of any one track. I will recommend Your Heart as the catchy opener, In Town and The Greatest Moments as songs that make me listen a little more attentively, and Give Me Words as the suitably tender closer.

Andy Shauf is 22 now, and many of the songs on album were taken from demos he made in high school. At the house show he made a disclaimer that most of the songs he was performing were newer, and not on the album. As much as I love the Darker Days, these songs were even better, displaying an increased depth of talent and maturity. Andy Shauf has clearly never stopped striving in his craft, and we can be sure to expect even more impressive music from him in the future. He finished his set with a song that dug its fingers deep within the weave of my heartstrings, and gave a smooth, but firm tug. Though the audience only heard it once, I had several people mention it to me in the following week. Finding this video of Andy Shauf performing that song, I Am Lost, live has been a highlight of my week. Please give it a listen. I promise you won’t regret it.

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