Andy Shauf has been smart about his music since the day we first heard him. There’s something magical in how he pens a tune that makes him stand out above many who fall within the singer songwriter genre. Maybe it’s the air in Canada, but on his new album The Neon Skyline, Shauf dips his toes into a sound where he has little to no contemporaries, while coming out of the other side with a winner. Produced by Shauf and Rob Schnapf, The Neon Skyline reminds you of early Paul Simon with Randy Newman graces, all packaged and arranged in how Shauf delivers his music. The sweetness of his vocals alone should hold your attention, while the arrangements are above and beyond what anyone else in the genre is producing today.
The sorcery here lies in how the album is laid out. With the opener “Neon Skyline,” Shauf has that mix of talk singing and intimate vocalist that just shimmers with this kind of music. The way the bass pops underneath the vocals and extra instrumentation lulls you into a sense of intimacy not found within most music today. The song’s pace is just as remarkable, though it’s how it feels like a conversation that makes the arrangements sparkle so. Typically with this much instrumentation, the way it plays out could get lost on the listener. That’snot the case here.
Throughout the album, Shauf takes you on an expansive ride of tone and melody. On “Where Are You Judy,” Shauf evokes a bit of that NOLA jazz sound, where he channels a more NYC in the seventies vibe on “Clove Cigarettes.” Keep in mind, the album isn’t locked in time. It’s just that such songwriting doesn’t really exist in modern music anymore. Andy Shauf finds a way to touch on all of these moments in time through music without lifting from anyone. “Living Room,” one of the many well placed tracks of the album has a very relaxed sound, almost in that Laurel Canyon feel. However Shauf transcends that with a more jazz driven directive without travelling too far down that path.
“The Moon” mixes a folk graced stride with a tenderness that feels stark and open, like you’ve walked in on a private performance. If that were all that were here, it’d be okay yet Shauf mixes in a pre-chorus that changes things enough to not turn you away. “Fire Truck” has this wandering weariness like it’s coming from an old road dog who’s ready to stop the argument and just get some rest. Here Shauf adds these noodles of notes that break up the acoustic like you’ve never heard before. In fact, that’s how the entire album plays out. With the guise of a singer songwriter, Andy Shauf brings a level of Elliott Smith like orchestration to his sound. And much like Smith, he sounds years ahead of everyone else who’s tread this path before.
The Neon Skyline is available to purchase physically directly from Anti Records. It’s also ready to purchase from all digital outlets or to stream on all streaming sites. Andy Shauf is on tour February 07 at Ace of Cups in Columbus, OH until May 01 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, PA. You can see his whole run of dates, here.
Image Credits: Photo by Colin Medley.