Strand Of Oaks is Timothy Showalter. Shirk characterized him as a jolly sort of guy, always wearing a smile and communicating mostly in jokes. That characterization stands in contrast to the music of Strand Of Oaks, which I’d imagine is sacred ground. It’s that cathartic place where the songwriter can let down his guard, self-reflect and explore themes of devastation in relationships, lost possessions and burning homes. I, for one, am thankful that he’s willing to let us in to this world because, while it may be fraught with peril, there’s beauty on the other side.
Leave Ruin was one of my favorite albums this year even though it was released the year before. I discovered it on my own, without being approached by a label, PR rep or some music biz type representative.‚ That kind of music discovery really excites me these days, especially when it’s music like this. It’s honest and wears its heart on its sleeve. Leave Ruin is an album that washes a peaceful calm over you. I’ve had it playing in the background during countless evenings with the wife or dinners with the family. So, I guess in a way, I’ve let Strand Of Oaks into my world and he’s part of the soundtrack of my life – at least in 2009.
And here we are with a live session. Tim brings the songs to life with a quiet intensity, armed with only an electric guitar and his words. He kicks the sesh off with a version of Bruce Springsteens “Used Cars” from Nebraska, an album which I imagine has enormously influenced Strand Of Oaks’ Leave Ruin. Both albums are stripped down and desolate. From there he moves into “End In Flames” from Leave Ruin, which strikes a chord if you’ve heard his back story – at least the part about his house burning down. He also tosses in an unreleased track called “Daniel’s Blues,” just to let you know he ain’t finished yet.
Video: Strand Of Oaks – End In Flames