As the calendar flips to the second month of our shiny new decade, I welcome an end to bleak January. It was filled with grey days, chilling rain, and blustery biting winds. Sadly, February seems to be more of the same. During these harsh, unpredictable months, I seek refuge inside where my primary comfort is the warmth of my cushy sofa and music. I lean on music more than ever lately, because the disturbing daily news weighs just as heavily, as the low, dark, dripping winter clouds. Escape is a necessary survival.
I am desperately looking forward to the promise of February and any tiny hints that spring might be near. Perhaps it can also be a welcome reminder that kindness and love still exists as we prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Even though Valentine’s can be commercially fueled, I am still ready for any happy distraction from the dreary winter months and the angry negativity of American politics.
Lately, music has seemed a bit saturated and watered down with a weird dullness. I wonder if it is just my general winter mood. I still listen and continue to look for the standout music creators. From my lackadaisical winter music slumber, I was suddenly awakened when I heard the newly released album by Andy Shauf.
How did I miss the emails in November when they were sharing his latest tracks?
Everything about the last few months has been a bit underwater, slow, and mired with a few informational gaps. Andy Shauf’s recently released album, The Neon Skyline, via ANTI-records, awakened my temporary blog absence and reminded me of my deep devotion to music and the place I have created here. Shauf is a talented singer, songwriter from Toronto, Canada. He has several albums under his belt, but his latest may prove to be his best and brightest.
The Neon Skyline is a concept album written in the first person about a significant past love relationship and the narrator pining over its loss. Each song explores his life, friendships, social life, and odd perspective as he is boldly surprised with the news his girlfriend is back in town. Genuine, clear-eyed, and descriptive, each song unfolds on a bittersweet journey. He potentially screwed up, can it be rekindled? I recall a similar personal scenario and know other listeners can relate to Shauf’s clever self reflection. Love is oh, so complicated and the emotions associated with it can still bubble up long after a bad breakup. Shauf’s soft voice spills out with detailed experiences and internal, sometimes humorous, conversations. His simplicity is poignant, relatable, and sweetly charismatic.
When insightful lyrics are carefully embedded in a strumming guitar, bright piano, the subtle hint of a sorrowful clarinet, and rhythmic drumbeat, it becomes magically golden. Shauf plays all of the instruments on the album arranging them together with prolific mastery. His lyrical stream of consciousness engages the listener, but after multiple listens they realize the musical expression flows with equal fluency, creating a joyous union that is undeniable. The songs are upbeat and cheery, with a folksy, pop rock, coffee house vibe. The lilting melodies continue to hum in your head long after the song has ended. As the music draws you in, the whispers of lyrics make you want to listen again and again for insight.
The Neon Skyline could’ve been a “been there, done that” album, but Shauf’s fresh voice and attention to acutely observant details created a compelling and refreshing storyline. I couldn’t help but sink into its musical warmth. It is an album meant to savor over time and find newly discovered joys with each listening. 2020 is looking brighter and brighter…thank goodness!
“Somewhere between drunkenness and charity
She puts her hand on the sleeve of my coat
She says “I’ve missed this.”, I say “I know, I’ve missed you too.”
She says, “I was actually talking about your coat.”
She makes me laugh, oh how she makes me laugh
I just let my head sink down and fake some deep sobs
Come on baby, try again
Come on baby, try again”