Strand of Oaks – HEAL [album review]

by Woody on June 24, 2014


I was an Indiana kid, gettin no one in my bed
I had your sweet tunes to play
I was staring at the map, feeling fire in my head
I had your sweet tunes to play
I was mean to my dad, cause I was mean to myself
I had your sweet tunes to play
Stealing smokes in my car, with the windows way down
I had your sweet tunes to play
Your sweet tunes to play

That’s how one of the best tunes of 2014 begins. That tune is called JM, part tribute to a musical hero, Jason Molina, and part cathartic visit to growing up in Indiana. The sonic template of this track is outrageous in its ambitions and Strand Of Oaks, otherwise known as Timothy Showalter, nails it. The guitar solo at the end of this brooding, fiery seven minute epic is unadulterated musical genius. I have listened to this track 30 times plus and I get goose bumps every time; something I don’t think will ever change. It is an intensely powerful track.

JM is found on Strand Of Oaks fourth album, the aptly title HEAL. At HearYa, we’ve become friendly with Tim over the years. We’ve had him for a couple of sessions, traded emails & texts and generally just looked forward to seeing him. To have a friend reach such a pinnacle in their field, whether it be music or anything else, is always nice to see. And HEAL is hands down, Tim’s best work (and that comes from an unabashed Strand of Oaks fan).

But as the album states, this is an album about healing and you never want to know that a friend was going through such bad times. And while Tim is far from a close friend that we see all the time, his outgoing and gregarious nature must have been masking some tough times. Listening to Mirage Year, a track about his ex-wife’s infidelity and the struggles of their marriage, is gut-wrenching. While most everybody has turned to music during a relationship’s tough times, for most it has always been out losing yourself in the lyrics of others. Showalter turned the focus on himself with such clear and vivid lyrics as “That winter when you took my love / And that fucker was having his fun / But my hands are worth more than your blood.”

While a more apt title for this album might have been HEALING, as it sounds as if Tim is still working through things. After countless listens, HEAL hammers home what so many of us know already – music is the salve to so many wounds. Whether it be my seven year old daughter singing Let It Go or Tim singing about his youth in Indiana, music is a powerful thing.

Our live sessions with Tim are here & here

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa

Follow Tim here

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

MyMusic June 28, 2014 at 10:14 am

Dead on review! This album is incredible and therapeutic. Strand of Oaks keeps getting better and better.

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