Described by songwriter Scott Schaus as a “platonic love story”, his self-named music project Schaus releases their latest single “Hasan”. Anyone hoping for literal songwriting in the lyrical department will suffer disappointment because of the impressionistic nature of his lines but the spirit of the track comes through nonetheless. Despite the window dressing adorning his songs, Schaus writes from a deep well of emotion and a strong autobiographical flavor fills his recorded output. “Hasan” is included on his forthcoming album release Grinding and his continued method of composing in his bedroom studio pays off enormous dividends once again.
I like how he marries traditional instruments and counterparts that are more modern together so well. The interplay between guitar and synthesizer during the song is one of its highlights; they make distinct contributions to the song, but likewise achieve an unified sound that makes the cut sturdier overall. The pre-programmed percussion propelling the tune over four minutes and change keeps the pulse energetic and, despite its origins, warm and physically engaging. He ties these elements together like someone who possessed a clear idea of what he wanted to accomplish with this song and realizes it potential.
His processed vocal never suffers from its effects laden treatment Schaus has enough emotive vocal talent that his phrasing cuts through the tinkering and connects with listeners. The lyrics are abstract, yes, but Schaus’ deeply felt treatment elevates their impact without ever risking pretension. Tastefulness defines “Hasan” despite the arrangement’s unusual turns and the completeness of Schaus’ songwriting distinguishes him from many contemporaries.
His appearances opening for Wild Ones and John Maus and landing a spot in the lineup for the PDX Pop Now Festival testify to the recognition he has already received despite only two previous releases. “Hasan” and the earlier single “Happy” come at listeners in very individual ways but share a common core – the willingness to follow one’s muse wherever she may lead. Schaus is writing and recording music on his own terms and what he’s accomplished through YouTube tutorials along with trial and error is quite impressive.
The single doesn’t lack for ambition. Bedroom studio or not, Schaus aims to capture something indelible even if the music owes a debt to alt pop and succeeds without alienating listeners. The appealing sound he adopts for the recording helps sweetens the more difficult portions of the performance. His sharp and meticulous presentation for “Hasan” makes it a potent single release and further underlines the streak of the iconoclast running through his work.
It is certain to be one of the marquee tracks included on Grinding. The March release of this new album will broaden his appeal and spread his name further than previous releases thanks to the exponential growth he has experienced since his last release in 2018. It is always bracing for me to hear a young and inspired musical performer hitting their early stride and there’s a lot of suggestions that’s the case for Schaus. He shows himself to be stylistically diverse and unafraid to go out on limb in his work.