Album Notes - Andy Shauf - The Neon Skyline

Dispatches from the Highlands

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It's Madlib time. Give me:
1. -ing verb
2. a place 
3. a type of store
4. -ing verb activity
5. a noun
6. an adjective
7. a noun
8. a clock time

Now complete the story below with the answers above.

I was __________ (1) to the __________ (2) when I saw Charlie. He said to me, "Hey, where are you going?" So I told him, "I'm going to the __________ (2)." He said, "OK I'll join you." As he said that we were going alongside a _________ (3) store. This reminded me of the time he and I went __________ (4) with Claire and Judy. The sky was dark that night but the moon full and with the streetlights out I handed Judy a __________ (5). She laughed and turned and said to me, "That's very kind but what I am supposed to do with that?" I guess she was right but I thought it was a funny __________ (5). Not as funny as the __________ (6) look on her face. She put it in her pocket as we headed towards the entrance.

How did I know, how did I know 
It would play that part in this role
How did I know, how did I know
It would play that part in this role

{clarinet interlude}

Just then Charlie said he was going back because he forgot to grab his __________ (7). So Claire asked Charlie, "When do you think you'll return?" Charlie said, "It shouldn't be long, I'll be back by __________ (8)" and made his way out the door. I turned to Judy and said "I don't think he'll be back by then." She agreed as her hand reached into her pocket. It ended up being much longer by the time Charlie returned.

How did I know, how did I know 
It would play that part in this role
How did I know, how did I know
It would play that part in this role

Congratulations. You just wrote the twelfth song on The Neon Skyline. OK, that would be doing a serious disservice to Andy Shauf and his effortless, matter-of-fact songwriting craft. But it wouldn’t necessarily be out of place. Give it a listen and see for yourself.

The Saskatchewanian's 35-minute concept album unfolds over the course of one evening in the life of a nameless narrator lamenting an ex, going to a bar to drink his thoughts away (or engage them deeper), and meeting a friend before said ex walks into the watering hole. It plays out more like something on a stage than a record, and a playbill might be more appropriate than liner notes. Regardless, it's a worthwhile listen. 

Shauf's acoustic-driven, first-person narratives seem second nature to the songwriter. Done in a way that is easy to initially overlook, or find repetitive, subtleties emerge upon closer inspection that payoff when taken as a whole.  

This also isn't Shauf's first appearance here in Album Notes. The Neon Skyline certainly shares some similarities with Foxwarren, the 2018 self-titled LP by the group of old college friends he fronted. Yet the album about trying to get back together with a former love is somehow more upbeat than that full band effort two years ago.

Judy might not give her ex another chance, but I'd recommend a second round at The Neon Skyline if it doesn't hook you the first time.

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