Andy Shauf – The Party

  • September 21, 2016

Andy Shauf’s latest album, The Party, is a gorgeous follow up to his critically acclaimed album “Bearer of Bad News”. Like Bearer, The Party is entirely self produced, with Shauf handling all instrumentation with the exception of the string arrangements, which are laid out beautifully by Colin Nealis. Shaun’s lush layers of clarinet, velvety strings, and muted guitar, paired with a vocal style that wanders into deceptively innocent doo-doo-doos, conjures Harry Nilsson and Elliot Smith without relying on either influence to carry the compositions. The Party rides the unsettling arc of a house party, as it casually unravels through nervous anticipation, to dark corner confessionals, betrayals, and absence. In “Early To The Party”, the strings build and break as Shauf’s character waits “…overdressed and underprepared / standing in the kitchen / stressing out the host…” the piano punctuates the background like clinking glasses, and immediately the mood is set that things may not go as planned. At mid point in the album, “The Worst in You” is a search for a girlfriend who has disappeared up the stairs “…I walked carefully up / till I was almost halfway / I saw two closed doors / so I let my heart break…” the song, set to a cheerful, hum along cadence, seems to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of youthful disaster. In “Martha Sways”, a hazy, end of the night moment, Shauf finally joins the party, reaching for a just for now substitute for an absent love “And I follow suit / she fills my glass / and I toss it back / into the space that once held you.” Shauf’s guitar strolls easily along, backlit by dreamlike strings and drifting, twinkling piano, which fade back to Shauf and his guitar as the moment recedes. The Party is an impressive endeavor in both musical intricacy and empathetic storytelling, sweet, painful, and worth revisiting while we wait for the next. – Written by SLynch



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