[Album Review] Andy Shauf- The Party
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Release Date: May 20th, 2016
Label: Anti-/Arts & Crafts

The first few listens of ‘The Party’ reveal nothing too much out of the ordinary. It’s pleasant enough neo-yacht/folk music but that’s about it. But you have to allow Andy Shauf’s latest album time to seep into your bones. Once you get an ear for the tales that being told you’ll gain a greater appreciation of Shauf’s craft as a storyteller as well as a musician.

The compositions are top notch throughout, but the record is bookended with its best cuts. The two opening tracks, “Magician” and “Early To The Party”, are fairly typical of Shauf’s easy-going style, but the string arrangements are exquisite. The second-to-last “Alexander All Alone” is lyrically the album’s most morose moment, but the musical pace is quite lively, with plunking piano and bouncing bass. The album closes with “Martha Sways”, a gentle acoustic folk number. This is a particularly sweet song, ending the record on a strong note.

Musically, the album drags a bit in the middle going, suffering somewhat from a degree of sameness. However, the saving grace is Shauf’s conversational singing style that lends itself perfectly to his vignettes of everyday life. A simple description of the early stages of a party (yes, that’s from “Early To The Party”) becomes like a Robert Altman movie, elevating the ordinary to a form of art.

Shauf is, after all, a spinner of yarns, so his job is to make music that is appealing but not so dramatic as to overpower the narrative. Mission accomplished.