Saturday, July 11, 2009

Andy Shauf - Darker Days

Andy Shauf is one of those enviably talented individuals whose aptitude for songwriting and singing is matched by his dexterity with a wide variety of instruments. The homespun folk of his P is for Panda/Hopeless Records debut Darker Days features flourishes both traditional and non-, from the harmonica, xylophone, and banjo of “You Remind Me” and “Let’s Be” to the pseudo-industrial interludes of “Gone”. The album’s understated, handcrafted feel is genuine, having been self-produced over a period of several years in Shauf’s own bedroom, its creator painstakingly recording each instrument separately by himself. However, Darker Days’s lo-fi roots are belied by its pristine sound quality, which presents each element with total clarity, in particular Shauf’s exquisite harmonized vocals. The effect is subdued and elegant, a pitch-perfect blend of folk rock, country, and bluegrass which is effortlessly balanced in its dynamics and achieves an almost psychedelic feel in its more colorful moments. In this, Shauf fits in well with his Canadian brethren Basia Bulat and Rich Aucoin, both of whom excel in charting the outer reaches of upbeat folk pop. This is perfect music for the languid summer days ahead, an ideal accompaniment for a porch swing and a good book. A

RIYL: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Ray LaMontagne

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