ANTI-/Arts & Crafts
I was introduced to Andy Shauf at a DC show where he opened for slow core band, low. He had just a guitar and his sweet mumbly voice that anyone who knows about him probably loves about him. I didn’t expect, when I got home to listen to his other stuff, that his music would be so full of circusy, psychedelic composition. His album, The Party, with the single “The Magician” was an indie revelation that put the Canadian on the world map.
It is fitting that his latest album, The Wilds, strips it almost back to just him and his guitar. It has other instruments— drums, electric guitar, sometimes the woodwinds that he employs so well—all of which he plays on this latest album. You could call this album an afterthought, coming so soon after his 2020 The Neon Skyline, but it is in fact, a concept album of worthy comport, that jumps off the Judy of “Where Are You Judy” of the previous album.
The album opens with a witty and super cute song about playing the lottery with his lover Judy, a song that takes on much more meaning by the end of the album. The second song, “Spanish On The Beach,” one of the sweetest songs that you’ve ever heard, finds Andy recalling a romantic afternoon or couple of days with Judy. “I wish that could be permanent.” The third song, “Jaywalker,” however, begins to delve into the character flaws and bad luck of the characters. “Hanging around town never looked good on you.”
The album is about those feelings of love, perhaps infatuation, that come with a connection brought about by funny and meaningful experiences. A number of times, Andy even talks about getting down on one knee to propose. But, as we all know, relationships are often fraught with doubt and conflict. “I wanna hear your voice call… / Do you wanna hear anything I say?”
Overall, it’s an album that is super sweet, then bitter, and then sweet again, when Andy and Judy dance stoned at someone else’s wedding to conclude the album, after their unfortunate break up. All of the songs were written during the writing of The Neon Skyline (he wrote upwards to fifty songs during that time) and it’s a surprise gift for us that comes out fully realized. A side story that I actually like better than The Neon Skyline, for it’s endearing and relatable story, the beautiful direction Andy does, much like a spin off movie. Andy is one of the best songwriters creating out there right now. Whether it’s the super conceptual stuff he normally does, or these thumbnail sketches he put together for the Wilds.
Pre-order Wilds by Andy Shauf HERE