Andy Shauf is in the middle of a very busy year.
Fresh off a spring tour in Europe that ended at the start of June, he’s already back on the road opening for ANTI- labelmate case/lang/veirs, who have a Vancouver date scheduled this week on June 29.
In fact, if you look at his tour dates on his website, September is the only month he isn’t scheduled to play for the rest of 2016. He’ll be touring through North America, with a return to Vancouver planned for October.
“It gets really tiring in a way,” Shauf said about constantly being on. “There are moments here and there that totally make all the ‘work’ worthwhile.
“It’s a totally rewarding experience, I do enjoy it. But I would enjoy some time off, keep writing, keep trying to do the thing I love to do the most.”
It isn’t as if it came as a surprise. In October of last year, Shauf signed to ANTI-, as well as Arts & Crafts here in Canada. The man Exclaim called “one of Canada’s best young folk singer-songwriters” released his new album with them, entitled The Party.
Not only has the album been getting attention from all the touring he’s done, it was also recognized with a long-list nomination from the Polaris Music Prize for the best Canadian album. Should it also make the short-list, it appears Shauf would have plans in September, attending the gala.
He said it was “really cool to be included in this list of really great albums,” and also mentioned that it’s special to be back playing again in Canada.
“I love playing in Canada. I’m really excited to do it again. I don’t even know [when] the last time I played in Canada was,” he said. “I’ve been touring in Western Canada for 10 years, so it’s really nice to play in familiar cities and see all the people who have supported you for a long time.”
The Party is getting well-earned attention right now. For those unfamiliar with Shauf’s work, his bandcamp page lists the music as “pop clarinet dark Canada.” While he does a beautiful job blending clarinet with piano, guitar, drums — and getting some help from Colin Nealis on the strings — it’s his storytelling that draws you in as a listener.
The Party is the story of just that: a party that takes place in a “city the size of a dinner plate.” Shauf creates these realistic characters for us to listen to as one night full of little vignettes unfold. Hearts lust away to swooning clarinet melodies, people drunkenly stumble to rich piano lines, and all the while Shauf’s emotional, soothing voice guides listeners through the night’s events.
Shauf selected 10 songs from the 15 he was working on for The Party, which is a much lower number than the 100+ songs he selected from for his last full-length album, 2015’s The Bearer of Bad News.
“I think I just have a better sense of what I like and what I don’t like,” he said of how his writing process has evolved. “On those earlier albums, there’s a lot of searching and a lot of trial and error whereas with The Party it was kind of easier to focus and know what I wanted to do.”
As evidenced by his Polaris nomination, it’s also something that listeners want him to do as well. Hopefully he finds time to appreciate this fact — maybe in 2017.
Andy Shauf is playing at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Wednesday, opening for case/lang/veirs as part of the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Tickets are available here.