‘The Party’ by Andy Shauf (Album)
A welcome return for the Canadian songwriter whose latest cast of characters colour the night and leave a lasting impression
The Magician gets The Party started and it’s immediately apparent that Andy Shauf’s latest effort is a different proposition to last year’s The Bearer Of Bad News. The grizzly cast of drug addicts and murderers has been replaced by colourful revellers and nighthawks. The arrangements have also progressed and Shauf’s creativity now resembles Harry Nilsson or McCartney at his most playful, especially on Twist Your Ankle.
The album is a cabinet of curios for Shauf’s collection of interesting characters. The lyrics provide tiny but enlightening glimpses into their lives. The narrator of Quite Like You laments that “Jimmy’s so stoned I’d be surprised if he saw the tears in Sherry’s eyes.” The Worst In You is filled with the paranoia of a mistrusting partner and the title subject of Martha Sways provokes both nostalgia and yearning as she dances. The instrumental moments are just as intriguing, in particular Early To The Party which is held together by several gorgeously sweeping passages.
By playing the role of the watcher, Shauf has fuelled his imagination and written a potential classic. As personalities come and go, they lead the songs in a variety of different directions and just as fragmented moments often merge together to make a memorable party, each one contributes to this startling album.
Verdict: A dreamlike recollection of the night before