Andy Shauf
Photo: Geoff Fitzgerald

Andy Shauf’s songwriting is folklore material. He’s the kind of artist who masterfully channels storytelling tradition through the chosen modern medium, in this case, indie folk. His latest effort, The Party, takes the points of view of multiple characters attending a tumultuous and drama-filled social gathering. His voice lives through his characters. From showing up unfashionably early, to accidentally hitting on a friend’s partner, the social fumbling and awkwardness of his protagonists hits home in a way that not many other story-songs can.

Think Randy Newman meets Elliott Smith. The longform story arcs of urban legend infused with short melancholic tales of social anxiety. The production on Shauf’s latest fittingly sounds like a movie score in many places. Lush strings flow gently over acoustic guitars, twinkling piano riffs provide song hooks, the drums are brushed with a smooth, calculated gentleness.

What makes Shauf’s work unique isn’t some unwitting discovery of an innovative sound, or a refreshing blend of influences. It’s his ability to carry the torch for the aesthetic and structural tradition of folk songwriting. There aren’t many artists in indie music today making regular attempts to tell a story in classic folklore form, let alone create a whole album grounded in the art form. The Party has the magnetic pull of a classic coming of age album. It’s doused in the kind of young adult angst that has fueled the best art in the popular imagination for a century.

Listen to Shauf’s most recent record “The Party” here:

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