There’s an innate stillness and depth to Andy Shauf’s music—a quiet, riveting strength that subtly steals its way into a listener’s bones. He’s a storyteller: a singer of heartbreak and regrets, isolation and loneliness, small-town legends and smaller-town killers. Throughout his album The Bearer of Bad News—a joint release between Tender Loving Empire and Party Damage Records—he studies the universal through two to five-minute microcosms, spinning tales as few others can, where accidental, redemptive victories (“Hometown Hero”) stir alongside evocative, heartrending tales of self-doubt and lost loves (“I’m Not Falling Asleep”). The Saskatchewan native’s tender, singular tenor guides the way over muted instrumentation of softly-strummed guitars, dampened drums, weathered piano, and clarinet, which lends its unique timbre to frequently brighten—or hauntingly underscore—the songs’ darker undercurrents.
Meticulously written over four years and recorded over one in a makeshift studio set up in his parent’s basement, Shauf, whose delivery at times reminds of Elliott Smith or Paul Simon, plays nearly every instrument on The Bearer of Bad News. The album was crafted on his grandfather’s timeworn guitar and heavily influenced by the aforementioned—and newly learned—clarinet, which was a Christmas gift from family. In spite of his modest recording set-up, Shauf imbued The Bearer of Bad News with an enduring warmth and redolence that lingers long after the album ends.