Album Review: Andy Shauf – The Neon Skyline

One of the challenges that all musicians face is that as they release albums and their critical acclaim grows, so too does the height from which they can fall if they fail to live up to expectations. It’s happened to some of the best artists across the globe but one of the artists who seems completely immune to such a disappointment is Canadian artist Andy Shauf.

Shauf has been bringing his stunning brand of indie folk to the world for a number of years now and every album, every track, every word; they all seem to be spun from gold. His latest album The Neon Skyline is a mesmerising delve into the stories that drift within his mind and an exposition of the life he has lead. Calling Shauf an artist feels almost understated because it’s such a broad term and what he has is an unparalleled speciality that is more like a short fiction author whose work has somehow happened to be presented atop an awe-inspiring collection of melodies. The Neon Skyline is an album that comprises eleven tracks, each leading into the other that take you on a journey from going to his local bar, meeting his friend, finding out his ex is back in town and what ensues from there. The whole album comes out as a musical catharsis blended into a short story that takes you on a journey of the heart.

Shauf’s indominable lyrics are the core of his work and something that few can hold a candle to, however, the music that he produces to accompany his word is equally breath-taking. A rich narrative of sound that is driven by smooth and sultry jazz inspirations with an indie-folk heart at its centre. This is primarily enhanced by Shauf’s dedication to returning the clarinet to fashion and the elegant and heartfelt tunes that he creates with it in his work. Everything about Shauf’s work is a carefully measured action in emotion, his every word and note coming right from the heart. His work is something that is identifiable for almost anyone; we’ve all been in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone we don’t want to see walks in. The conflicting feelings that arise within such an occasion are what Shauf has mastered not only within his own mind, but in how to conjure them in us as well.

Andy Shauf is an outstanding artist with a passion and sensibility that most can only envy. His deep passion is imbued within the soft Canadian lilt he sings with and his beautiful heartfelt music compliments his every tender tone. The Neon Skyline is an album that leaves you with conflicting emotions arising in your chest but the familiarity with which he brings it all to life makes these emotions feel somewhat softer and warmer than before. It is another masterpiece for Shauf’s collection, a collection that shows no signs of slowing any time soon.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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