To quote the incomparable Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In the chaos of daily life, it becomes increasingly important to take time to really reflect on your surroundings, or at a minimum, what you’re listening to.
Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf, known for his alluring storytelling, took ample time to stop and look around with his latest release, Norm.
With the aid of the masterful mixing talents of Neal Pogue (Tyler, the Creator, Janelle Monae, Outkast), Shauf shifted gears from The Neon Skyline in his latest release, reflecting inward on his idea of a concept album of faith and fatalism while leaving much of the interpretation to us. Norm, self-produced with all instruments being played by Shauf himself, was formulated in his garage studio and given life through semi-isolation and David Lynch.
Norm opens with the, harmless enough, pep of “Wasted On You”, which immediately strikes a more upbeat and bright tone than most Andy Shauf. In keeping with his style and sound, however, the record almost immediately departs the reflection of wasting love on someone and the correlating animosity therein. Shauf’s breathy delivery is ever present and he doesn’t stray greatly from what has drawn so many to him. The ever-demonstrated tone of Shauf is carried gently in the fading daylight by simple acoustic strumming and accompaniments of atmospheric piano, horn, and bass across the record. It is all too easy to be lulled into strumming pulse of Norm. The emotion-packed subtlety that reveals itself in this record is as captivating a listen, end-to-end, as one could find. Andy Shauf’s ability to find the melodic longing in each of us is poured through the seemingly simple beauty and elegance of this master songwriter. The album reprises the question of love waisted in the short closer “All My Love” and gently reveals itself in the finale, prompting a masterful demand for another go to pick up on it all. This is a record that consumes you without abrasion and is all too easy to be lost within.
At its heart of Andy Shauf’s latest there is a shroud of darkness to the story of Norm. What that is? Well, if you don’t stop and look around every once and a while, you’ll miss it. Check out Norm from Andy Shauf February 10th on ANTI-.