In a world full of guys with guitars, it can be hard to stand out. No genre might be more saturated than that of the singer-songwriter. So, when someone not only stands out but hones in on his own aesthetic and sound, its all the more noteworthy.
There is truly no musical feeling conjured up while listening that’s really comparable to Andy Shauf. I learned this firsthand at Desert Daze 2021. I was jetlagged and tired from a day of yell-talking at new friends I was making in the VIP area. It was dark (in November southern California gets dark early) and I was mingling with the crowd. This dude was onstage quietly churning away at his soft pensive bops, surrounded by a backdrop of liquid light show visuals, pulsing in an unassuming fashion.
Unassuming is a great way to describe what’s being put forth on Andy Shauf’s Norm. Everything I was hesitant about after discovering this guy for the first time seemed to click fully for the first time while listening to Norm. “Wasted on You,” the album opener, I have a sneaking suspicion will be in my top ten come year end. This song encapsulates the chill feeling of turning to your buds at a show, or maybe your living room, and saying “Man, this is a vibe!”
Each song takes its time but never overstays its welcome. “Catch Your Eye” is probably my other favorite on the album, and the most immediately recognizable other than “Wasted on You.” Shauf pulls no punches here – not even on “Daylight Dreaming” which has some surprisingly crunchy guitarwork. It’s the type of production that ought to feel abrasive but for some reason just… doesn’t.
Not every melody hits the same. There are a handful of moments where I almost feel disconnected towards the latter half of the record (“Long Throw” gave me this feeling) I can’t help but think this is wholly subjective, as it should be and that other folks might feel disconnected where I’m going “man, this is a vibe!”
Exercise caution when listening late at night. The relaxation is real, but this isn’t something you want to sleep though.
Follow Andy Shauf on Instagram.