The Canadian singer-songwriter with the predilection for writing albums about specific nights out (as heard on 2016’s The Party and 2020’s The Neon Skyline) has been announced for a solo shows in Ireland.
Shauf takes to the stage at The Sugar Club in Dublin on Sunday October 22nd for a solo set, presented by Selective Memory. On Monday October 23rd, Shauf travels to Cork for a show Live at St. Luke’s.
Shauf played Button Factory with his band last time out.
About Andy Shauf
Norm, the eighth album from singer-songwriter Andy Shauf, is a shimmering arc with unsettling silences that complete its story, the pop and hiss of a needle on a turntable after the song ends, emptiness like a trap door into something tender and terrifying. The Saskatchewan-born performer has already made a name for himself with television appearances and enviable reviews for his prior work, including his 2016 outing The Party, which The Sunday Times praised for “killer lyrics in music of extraordinary beauty,” and the night-at-a-bar drama of 2020’s The Neon Skyline, which Pitchfork called “a wistful, funny, and heartbreaking world.”
With Norm, he’s upended his songwriting methods, creating a deeply haunting and unpredictable universe. It’s a classic Shauf premise to wonder whether we’re destined for disappointment and pain when people don’t love us the way we want them to. But he’s taking the question further this time. Many tracks on Norm start out delicate and forlorn, with the feel of classic torch songs. In the middle of a line, Shauf’s vocals shift unexpectedly to a higher, plaintive register. He sounds as if he’s sitting next to you, singing quietly in your ear, with the persuasive pining of Chet Baker, if Chet Baker sang in round Canadian vowels.
But listen closely, and deep in the music, a shift happens as the world goes sideways. The tempo slows, vertigo slips in, or a discordant note appears. An uneasy clarinet phrase devolves into a busy signal. A lyric veers from a bird’s-eye-view to intimate thoughts. The result is a recognizable Shauf production, but with a flowing landscape of suppressed grooves propelling the songs toward uncertain destinations. He’s driving us out to a wild and dangerous place. The story takes shape through little epiphanies, accumulating like debris from a series of implosions.
Norm’s cast of characters includes four voices in all. Three are narrators, inside whose perspective Shauf submerges us for one or more songs. The voice of a fourth character appears only via a memory of laughter and a single line, relayed by one of the narrators: “are we leaving the city?” Watching a David Lynch film one night, Shauf found inspiration for how to frame his concept. What appeared to be a nearly static camera shot of a key on a table continued uninterrupted for two minutes, then five minutes, then seven. It seemed impossible in its relentlessness, bordering on genius. Eventually, Shauf realized his browser had crashed and the movie had frozen. Enchanted by the sense of possibility and wonder that had made the film so vivid to him during that period of incomprehension, he wanted to create something similar. He deliberately left open spaces through which readers could enter to find the story and create meaning for themselves.
What would eventually become Norm started out in a very different place. Back in 2020, Shauf wasn’t planning to make a concept album or a clustered narrative. This time, the songs wouldn’t be the stage for a cast of characters he had bound together song after song in aching proximity, all of them making each other happy or miserable or both. Maybe, he thought, he would make a disco record. What he really wanted was to make a normal record. It would be a set of unrelated songs, like albums recorded by other artists. A normal record. He decided he would call it Norm.