Unfolding like short fiction, the songwriting of Andy Shauf is familiar friend recounting memories. Set around a series of events that are entwined together from nights out with buddies for a beer or three to encounter an ex-girlfriend, all of which is delivered with humour and formidable patience.
‘Neon Skyline’ as an opener is a perfect demonstration of this. Acute emotional observations between Shauf and the characters in his story are dotted within, bringing life to characters we have never met but feel like we have.
‘Where Are You Judy’ taps into the refined storytelling that was ever-present on “The Party”, his previous album from 2016. Older and wiser, it’s clear what’s developed clearer rather than changed in as a songwriter – a storytelling and track composition that goes hand-in-hand.
Diligent, curious, and upfront about what might have been, ‘Thirteen Hours’ and ‘Things I Do’ are tales of fiction with eloquent guitar strides and sax backed musings of self-criticism.
For The Neon Skyline, Shauf chose to begin every structure on guitar instead of his accustomed piano. He says, “I wanted to be able to sit down and play each song with just a guitar without having to rely on some sort of a clever arrangement to make it whole.” The resulting album finds its immediacy in uniformity.
This album may touch on the folk genre throughout but still brings experimental elements in tracks like ‘Living Room and ‘The Moon’ with the subtle movement of vocal and bass notes.
Shauf wrote, performed, arranged, and produced every song on The Neon Skyline, this time at his new studio space in the west end of Toronto. A simple test of reverb pedal lead to the development in ‘Changer’, a fine note to end the album on with its nighttime softness which signals the beginning of new chapter yet to unfold.
“The Neon Skyline” is out now via ANTI-.