Our Take: Andy Shauf Redefines the Songwriter on ‘The Neon Skyline’

Adrian's Take

10 Music Quality
9 Production
8 Content Originality
9 Memorability
10 Lyricism
8 Sonic Diversity
9 Arranging
By methodically shifting between the roles of a songwriter, poet, and screenwriter on ‘The Neon Skyline,’ Andy Shauf proves once again how his brand of music is simply nonpareil.

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At this point, it might be too simple to call Andy Shauf just a songwriter and musician. Though he has repeatedly stated (including to us at Atwood Magazine) that he has no intentions to enter the worlds of poetry or literature, that doesn’t mean those worlds haven’t found their way into Shauf’s own. He’s known for his lyrical wit, penchant for detail-oriented stories—all surrounded by stunning melodies from an array of instruments—and an inescapable charm that lingers around listeners in the most beguiling fashion. These elements exist in spades on The Neon Skyline, resulting in an album that redefines what it means to be a songwriter.

Listen: ‘The Neon Skyline’ – Andy Shauf

Neon Skyline – Andy Shauf

2016’s The Party saw central a central story, one of a party and the guests enjoying the night—for the most part. Shauf was in the role of the wallflower, following individual stories taking place at the event and detailing them with vibrancy and care. They were individual vignettes, self-contained passages that had a clear beginning and end. With The Neon Skyline, audiences now have the entire album acting as the story, one whose robustness could easily classify Shauf as a screenwriter. It’s a story of a man and his group venturing from one bar to the next, all filled with happenings that ultimately lead to awkward encounters, heartfelt memories, and the occasional feeling of regret.

Neon Skyline” begins the journey with the titular hero readying himself for the evening. “I called up Charlie about a quarter past nine and said, ‘What’s going on tonight?’ He said, ‘No plans, but I wouldn’t mind holding a lighter head tonight.’ I said, ‘Come to the Skyline, I’ll be washing my sins away.’” Gone are the choruses—now just a story-driven listening experience that adroitly blurs the line between musician and director. The rest of the album follows suit, each new track further showcasing just how talented a storyteller Shauf is.

Watch: “Neon Skyline” – Andy Shauf

The gentle flourishes of guitar present on “Neon Skyline” find homes with many of the other tracks, “Clove Cigarette” being one such example. Simple but evocative is a talent Shauf employs with defined grace, and this track takes hold of it with great effect. The warbled guitar melodies allure, enchanting listeners and delicately carrying them onward. “Things I Do” adds to the soundscapes with heavier presences of horns and percussion, and this varied instrumentation aids in pushing the narrative forward as Shauf croons “Seems like I should have known better than to turn my head like it didn’t matter. Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?” Not everything in the night can be great, but the evening must continue nonetheless.

Though, what’s a night-out without introspection, and what better way to question one’s own reality than with the idea of reincarnation? “Dust Kids” opens with the direct line, “Charlie asks me if I believe in reincarnation,” and from there, listeners are taken on a stroll partially inspired by the events of Shauf himself. In our interview with him, he noted that “I read this book about reincarnation, and every time I went to the bar, I ended up trying to convince people to read it.” It never worked, sadly.

From the Perspective of the Wallflower: A Conversation with Andy Shauf’


On the album’s arguably most upbeat track, “Try Again,” Shauf details an unexpected run-in with an ex. Awkward moments arise, but the situation blossoms into a heartfelt experience that explores lost love and the beauty of the moments shared together. Wrapping it all together is an on-rush of keys, guitar, and percussions, all, without fail, inducing the largest grins on listeners’ faces. It’s a side-effect one would be hard-press to be upset over. The evening of awkward run-ins, gleeful memories, and life-pondering questions reaches its finale with “Changer,” a gorgeous ballad accompanied by a soothing tempo that borders on hypnotic. The melodies from the clarinet, guitar, and drums all coalesce into audible splendor, making this ending a fitting close to dazzling night.

Poetry, screenwriting, and compelling narratives filled with impressive dialogue: Andy Shauf’s artistic abilities are awe-inducing, each new album exemplifying exactly why he’s so hard to pin down. He expands what it means to be a musician, and he does so with a grace and poise that elevates his status to an artist to aspire to be. 2020 just began, but we might be looking at the album of the year already.

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The Neon Skyline

an album by Andy Shauf

:: Andy Shauf Tour Dates ::

* = w/ Molly Sarleé           ^ = w/ Faye Webster
Fri. Feb. 7 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups *
Sat. Feb. 8 – Lexington, KY @ The Burl *
Sun. Feb. 9 – Knoxville, TN @ Barley’s Taproom *
Tue. Feb. 11 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In *
Thu. Feb. 13 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall *
Fri. Feb. 14 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk *
Sat. Feb. 15 – Dallas, TX @ Deep Ellum Art Co. *
Tue. Feb. 18 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom *
Thu. Feb. 20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Fonda Theater *
Fri. Feb. 21 – San Francisco, CA @ August Hall *
Sat. Feb. 22 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s *
Mon. Feb. 24 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall *
Tue. Feb. 25 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos *
Wed. Feb. 26 – Vancouver, BC @ Commodore Ballroom *
Fri. Feb. 28 – Calgary, AB @ Bella Concert Hall *
Sat. Feb. 29 – Edmonton, AB @ The Starlite Room *
Mon. March 2 – Saskatoon, SK @ Broadway Theatre *
Tue. March 3 – Regina, SK @ The Exchange *
Wed. March 4 – Winnipeg, MB @ Park Theatre *
Thu. March 5 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line Music Hall *
Fri. March 6 – Milwaukee, WI @ Colectivo *
Sat. March 7 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall *
Fri. March 13 – Lyon, FR @ Epicerie Moderne *
Sat. March 14 – Bordeaux, FR @ Krakatoa *
Tue. March 17 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds *
Wed. March 18 – Glasgow, UK @ Mono *
Thu. March 19 – Manchester, UK @ Gorilla *
Fri. March 20 – Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club *
Sat. March 21 – Bristol, UK @ Fiddlers *
Sun. March 22 – Brighton, UK @ Chalk *
Wed. March 25 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique Orangerie *
Thu. March 26 – Utrecht, NL @ TivoliVredenburg *
Fri. March 27 – Rotterdam, NL @ Rotown *
Sat. March 28 – Nijmegen, NL @ Doornroosje *
Mon. March 30 – Hamburg, DE @ Elbphilharmonie *
Tue. March 31 – Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen *
Wed. April 1 – Stockholm, SE @ Nalen Klubb *
Thu. April 2 – Oslo, NO @ Ingensteds *
Sat. April 4 – Berlin, DE @ Silent Green *
Sun. April 5 – Cologne, DE @ Luxor *
Mon. April 6 – Rouen, FR @ Le 106 *
Tue. April 7 – Paris, FR @ Trianon *
Wed. April 8 – London, UK @ Shepherds Bush Empire *
Thu. April 23 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall ^ – JUST ANNOUNCED
Fri. April 24 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall ^ – SOLD OUT
Sat. April 25 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre ^
Sun. April 26 – Sheffield, MA @ Race Brook Lodge ^
Tue. April 28 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club ^
Thu. April 30 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw ^
Fri. May 1 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer ^
Sat. May 2 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat ^
Mon. May 4 – Charlottesville, NC @ The Southern ^
Tue. May 5 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle ^
Wed. May 6 – Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle ^
Fri. May 8 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West ^
Sat. May 9 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks ^
Sun. May 10 – Birmingham, AL @ Saturn ^
Tue. May 12 – Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi ^
Wed. May 13 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Andy Warhol Museum ^
Fri. May 15 – Asbury Park, NJ @ House of Independents ^
Sat. May 16 – Woodstock, NY @ Colony Cafe ^

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