Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two Best of 2016

7. Andy Shauf
The Party
(Arts & Crafts)

Though 2015 seemed to be the big year for the Laurel Canyon revival, Andy Shauf kept it lush on his Arts & Crafts debut, The Party, which garnered both critical acclaim and a spot on the Polaris Prize shortlist, and inspired a career-bolstering move to Toronto. But despite Shauf's move to larger pastures, The Party best exemplifies his ability to succeed in small spaces, looking inward to unearth the minute nuances of social interactions that showcase universal humanity.
Shauf's vividly nuanced portrayals of vignettes at an awkward house party — of being too loud, too quiet, too drunk, too sober —are set to a lush, orchestral backdrop; with the exception of strings, he plays every instrument, showcasing a knack for orchestral composition that both recalls legendary balladeers Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson while remaining uncompromisingly unorthodox, as his affinity for the clarinet shows.
Soft-spoken but hard-hitting, Shauf was one of Canada's breakout artists of 2016, The Party is, we hope, just the beginning of the celebration.
Matt Bobkin