Andy Shauf St. Matthew's United Church, Halifax NS, October 23

Andy Shauf St. Matthew's United Church, Halifax NS, October 23
Photo: Lindsay Duncan
Andy Shauf's voice is tricky to pin down. He stretches syllables in unexpected ways, drawing out "oohs" and "ees" in such fashion that sometimes it's tough to pick up on the lyric the first time through a chorus. That voice draws you in, though, and its remarkable strength and unique character holds you at attention.
The Saskatchewan-based Shauf — who announced record deals with Anti- and Arts & Crafts this month — performed in Halifax earlier this year, by himself, just prior to the rerelease of his album The Bearer of Bad News. It was a mesmerizing set, the sort that you couldn't quite pull your eyes and ears away from. His Halifax Pop Explosion show Friday night (October 23) was almost as strong, although paired on a bill with the Weather Station (and sharing a backing band), the material felt more of a familiar folk vintage, rather than the product of an out-of-nowhere showstopper riding into town with a reverb-laden guitar.
The voice is still the highlight, though, and Shauf is taking it in some interesting places. He's reportedly working on a concept album based around various experiences he had at a one party; Friday night, he performed at least one song from that project called "Early to the Party," a vivid portrait of a girl who was the first to arrive, "overdressed and underprepared." He also performed his most recently released track, "Jenny Come Home," exciting proof that Shauf's voice can fit as well in a catchy, upbeat song as it does in moodier, darker material like Bad News' "Wendell Walker" or "You're Out Wasting," and evidence that he may be headed for a very big 2016.