Download of the Week: Andy Shauf

Regina singer/songwriter releases new four song EP on Bandcamp

I was doing some work for CBC Radio this weekend, conducting interviews for their On a Cold Road concert at The Broadway Theatre. In fact, I got a sweet private show featuring all the bands as they rolled through their sets for their sound check, which made me feel like some kind of kingly emperor. Thankfully, everyone sounded great, so I didn’t have to wave my hand and said, “I grow tired of this band. Take them away. Kill them in the alley if you wish.”

All the bands were stellar, and they were all really cool during the interviews, which were conducted in a concrete space underneath the theatre in what Shauna Powers from CBC and I started referring to as “a creepy murder basement.” (By the way, the line up was Andy Shauf, Jeans Boots, Father Figures/Castle River, and Shuyler Jansen with Foam Lake – the sets will be broadcast with the interviews spliced in at a later date on CBC Radio One and CBC Radio 3).

I didn’t quit drinking or anything but I’m definitely a huge Andy Shauf fan now.”

As I sat there listening to the bands and making notes, I had one of those connections, you know, a transcendental musical ‘moment.’ When something you’re listening to reaches across the room, grabs you by the shirt collar, cigar dangling from its mouth like J. Jonah Jameson, and forces you to take deeper notice. I mean, let’s not be trite and say it changed my life or something too dramatic. Like, I didn’t quit drinking or anything but I’m definitely a huge Andy Shauf fan now. One of his CDs has been playing over and over in my car since he gave it to me.

Andy Shauf is a Regina-based troubadour with a quiet demeanour and an unassuming personality. Truthfully, until two weeks ago, I actually thought Andy was from Saskatoon, just because I’ve written about him before when he toured with Toon Town’s Zachary Lucky. But nope, he’s a Queen City kid.

Andy Shauf’s folkish sound is pretty much exclusively acoustic-based and he moves between strumming and well-practiced finger-picking (depending on the song). The arrangements are incredibly simple – he understands that less is more. Even though he was playing with a band for the On a Cold Road show, which he doesn’t normally do, he managed to keep things nice and sparse, just letting the song roll over you while you make a calm but meaningful connection to it.

Shauf’s songs are full of melancholy, his voice providing a soulful touch, opening up, but without being too heart-on-sleeve or on the nose. He slips in and out of falsetto with an excellent degree of control, but not so much that the feeling is stripped from the song. His clever lyrics betray the fact that he’s only 24; they often harness a Jerry Lee Lewis-like push/pull between the power of religious imagery and more human and damaged notions, like drinking a river full of alcohol to forget someone who left you behind.

You can get a lot of his DIY bedroom recordings online at places like Bandcamp, and you should watch for an 18 song double album he’s working on right now. And if you get the chance to see him live, I’d go ahead and do that.