Andy Shauf: Winter folklore from the Prairies

Monday 26th, January 2015 / 17:02
By Jodi Gibson
cutline: Saskatchewan’s Andy Shauf conjurs the desolate sounds of winter on his new record. Photo: Chris Graham

cutline: Saskatchewan’s Andy Shauf conjurs the desolate sounds of winter on his new record.
Photo: Chris Graham

VANCOUVER — Freshly signed to Portland labels Tender Loving Empire and Party Damage, Andy Shauf will officially release his entirely self-made record The Bearer of Bad News on February 3rd. If you’re looking for an intimate indie folk show and a weighty winter obsession, this is it – so don’t miss out! If you were in attendance for Shauf’s Biltmore show last year then you’ll recall the euphonic sounds making the bed for Shauf’s soft and languid berceuse voice melodically sharing dark prairie folklore.

Hailing from small town Estevan, Saskatchewan, Shauf recalls “I ran out of money and moved back home and started recording in my parents’ basement,” and in one short year Shauf had his record and his fingers crossed hoping this would be his White Album. Shauf is responsible for the totality of the album save for the sixth track where his pal Avery Kissick plays drums. Kissick had originally played for a few of the tracks but Shauf ended up redoing these tracks to create a simpler sound on the drums and allow enough room for the lyrics saying, “[I] took the most time on the drums, trying to get them so I would get as little happening as I could have.” The instrumentals were all meticulously tailored for the lyrical content to fit into.

As the album title suggests, this is an opaque and melancholy record. Littered with hopeless characters, regret, misunderstanding, heartbreak and sorrow, each song is a campfire story with an anecdote, provoking thought as you’re mesmerized by the music. Shauf says, “Writing in such a small format you have to leave the spaces that don’t need to be filled.” The frank and fantastically well-written stories don’t tell you what the takeaway is but instead relay only concisely told facts leaving interpretation to the listener.

With lyrical heroes like Elliott Smith and Randy Newman, Shauf creates his own style of story-telling song writing. “Hometown Hero” is a great example of a modern adage of a middle-aged man who, while sautéing in his own past as a high school team captain, saves a store from a hold-up then returns to his wallowing. When asked where these stories come from Shauf explains that they are “imagination based on exaggerated situations” which is a relief knowing that he did not play a hand in the cheating, lying, heartbreak and death in the “Wendell Walker” story.

“I don’t want to make myself sick of what I do,” Shauf answers when asked about his next record, which is complete and again wholly self-recorded. The next record is “a concept ‘70s pop record,” a whole other side of the pancake considering The Bearer of Bad News and it’s Grand Canyon of depth. Shauf shares that he’s “trying to make something that captures a period of time… [and] has to be what feels right in that point in time.” It’s difficult to imagine a completely different sound coming from such a quiet, almost forlorn, man, but judging by his first release it will be well worth the listen.

Onstage with Shauf is a mash up of a few longtime stage mates from Wake Owl, a hometown pal who plays keys and the opening act’s Ian Kehoe of Marine Dream will be on drums. This show will be packed with talent and thick with content: a must see. Although Shauf, in his humble nature, said he just wanted people to leave satisfied from his show, any person at the Fox will leave satiated with lore and resonance.

Andy Shauf performs at the Fox Cabaret February 5.

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