Troubadour Andy Shauf's Soft Music Reaches Clerkenwell
In the backstreets of East London, Andy Shauf proves that downbeat music doesn't need to be depressing.
The Slaughtered Lamb, reminiscent of the New York folk bars that featured in the Cohen brothers’
Inside Llewyn Davis
, combines dimly lit cocktail shelves with a bare black brick façade that fronts the venue’s modest stage. It was on here where Andy Shauf and his backing band squeezed themselves for an hour, gliding their way through a melodic set heavily featuring tracks from 2015’s sophomore LP,
The Bearer of Bad News
. It’s admittedly not an album title that conjures the most positive of imagery, but as a record it’s remarkably enjoyable and is not at all dispiriting. The negative connotations almost feel as if it’s a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the folk industry in which Shauf is beginning to gain recognition, with an interlude during his Clerkenwell show simply being him stating: “This song is a bit happier, but it’s still pretty depressing”. Shauf’s unique way of pronouncing his lyrics, which isn’t always down to his Canadian accent, adds a level of interest to the songs. Paper becomes ‘pay-err-purr’ (in ‘I’m Not Falling Asleep’), and because of your eagerness to decipher what’s being sung, the lyrical content of the tracks carry greater gravitas to your standard pop song. Such a way of articulation is similar to that of Sigur Ros’ Jonsi Birgisson, who has an intriguing way of putting emphasis on odd syllables and words whilst varying his vocal range between softly spoken and dramatic falsetto. This is remarkably like the way Shauf presents his songs, albeit with an increased reliance on whispered delivery, similar to the trademarked sound of Elliott Smith. The comforting vocals of Shauf, and the soft music that floats in the background, are both so gentle that it was often difficult to know when each song had finished. ‘Wendell Walker’ had almost a hypnotic effect on the audience, and ‘Hometown Hero’ was extended to last for the most relaxing of ten minutes. Before leaving the stage after his two-song encore, Shauf remarked, “this is so nice, I don’t know what to say”. The applause was so loud he needn’t have worried.
Click here to visit Andy Shauf’s site.