MP3: Andy Shauf – “I’m Not Falling Asleep”

As his caressing music may indicate, Andy Shauf applies a patient approach to his songwriting. He mentions his “prairie upbringing” as a possible cause. Quantity is not a factor for the Canadian artist, and only releasing a few songs since 2010 shows that. But the time for his second full-length has come. His debut, Darker Days, was released in 2008, making it over four years between that and new album The Bearer of Bad News. As usual, Shauf plays every instrument on the album apart from Avery Kissick’s drums on “You’re Out Wasting”. Guitars, piano, clarinet, and strings are a few specialties of this talented multi-instrumentalist, who created the album in the intimacy of his parents’ basement.

Immediate comparisons to Elliott Smith seem unavoidable, especially since Shauf possesses a solemn croon that seamlessly adapts to pop melodies and somber folk acoustics. “The Man on Stage” is one to show his melodic pop side, much like Smith did on “Baby Britain” and “Ballad of Big Nothing”. After some string dissonance, “The Man on Stage” launches into a breezy folk-rocker with an infectious power-pop edge reminding of Teenage Fanclub. “I am not poet, I’m a broken heart,” he sings during the hook, which unlike some other efforts on The Bearer of Bad News displays prominently into the song’s repertoire. Other tracks take a more reserved, developmental approach.

“You’re Out Wasting” is more demonstrative of his patience. Muddled acoustics and a soft percussive lull form a pleasantly placid intro, as Kissick’s shuffling percussion establishes a hypnotic and somewhat psychedelic feel. A bridge just before the one-minute mark shifts it into colorful orchestral territory; I’m reminded of Andrew Bird’s tendency to alternate between old-timey folk melodies and colorfully expansive orchestral-pop. Something similar can be said for the gorgeous “I’m Not Falling Asleep”, which relies on a groggy piano backbone and bursts of somber brass. The latter changes in tone throughout, and is responsible for much of the track’s variation. Shauf is a patient and tactful songwriter and it’s highly evident for the most part. While it may frustrate more hurried listeners, contemplate ones will be rewarded by Shauf’s beautiful songwriting.


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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