There’s an innate stillness and depth to Shauf and his music – a quiet, riveting strength that subtly steals its way into a listener’s bones. He’s a storyteller: a singer of heartbreak and regrets, isolation and loneliness, small-town heroes and smaller-town killers.
Throughout The Bearer of Bad News, Shauf studies the universal through two to five-minute microcosms, spinning tales as few others can where accidental, redemptive victories (the jaunty charmer “Hometown Hero”) stir alongside evocative, heartrending tales of self-doubt and lost loves (“I’m Not Falling Asleep,” the achingly beautiful “Covered In Dust,” “You’re Out Wasting”). There’s not one, but three cinematic murder ballads that slowly unfold like the greatest of tragedies: “Wendell Walker,” an epic account of adultery and betrayal, as well as “Jerry Was A Clerk” and “My Dear Helen,” sister songs that skillfully tell two sides of one unintended death. Shauf’s tender, singular tenor guides the way over muted instrumentation of softly-strummed guitars, dampened drums, weathered piano, and clarinet, which lends its unique timbre to frequently brighten – or hauntingly underscore – the songs’ darker undercurrents.
Meticulously written over four years, and recorded throughout one in a makeshift studio set up in his parent’s basement, Shauf plays nearly every instrument on The Bearer of Bad News. The album was crafted on his grandfather’s timeworn guitar and heavily influenced by the aforementioned – and newly learned – clarinet, which was a Christmas gift from family. In spite of his modest recording setup, Shauf imbued The Bearer of Bad News with an enduring warmth and redolence that lingers long after the album ends, a skill which earned him praise across Canada and a growing audience abroad.