Philadelphia singer-songwriter Timothy Showalter, who leads a band called Strand of Oaks, has released his fourth album, Heal.
As a whole, the album features an eclectic mix of styles ranging from '70s classic rock to a '90s alternative sound, including a hint of '80s new wave. Hard-hitting drums, waves of synthesizer effects, and guitar riffs that burst into anthemic hooks give each song a dynamic punch. The opening track, "Goshen '97," kicks off with that rock sound with distorted guitars and a contribution from Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis. It's a song about being a teenager and discovering his calling in music by finding his dad's tape machine.
The title track "HEAL" is heavy on synths and leans towards a new wave sound that is reminiscent of New Order. Lyrically, it deals with the impact of drinking and drugs on relationships, which Timothy Showalter knows about all too well. Heal is an album that describes the trials and tribulations of recovery. In a press release, Showalter described the album as follows:
The record is called Heal, but it’s not a soft, gentle healing, it’s like scream therapy, a command, because I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst parts. And that’s how I got better.
The music on the album make these songs powerful, but the lyrics are equally as impressive. "Shut In" features some of the most honest lyrics found on the LP, with a music video that compliments his emotions on the song.
"JM" is a touching tribute to Jason Molina, who was a musician from Ohio that fronted the bands Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. When Showalter was down and out, he had his "sweet tunes to play" to get him through the difficult times. The song closely resembles Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer," and that's an awesome thing. Whispering verses and an explosive solo easily make this song a highlight on the album.
"Plymouth" and "Mirage Year" are supported with gentle piano chords and lyrics that Showalter admits he "was a fool swimming in the dark." Closing out the album, "For Me" returns to the rock sound with Showalter singing his heart out and the gentle piano ballad "Wait For Love," where Showalter asks us to forge on in our daily lives, even in the face of difficulty.
For everything Strand Of Oaks, check out the official website.
STRAND OF OAKS HEAL TRACKLIST
1. Goshen '97 - 3:00
2. HEAL - 4:05
3. Same Emotions - 4:28
4. Shut In - 3:21
5. Woke Up To The Light - 4:08
6. JM - 7:23
7. Plymouth - 3:34
8. Mirage Year - 5:25
9. For Me - 3:04
10. Wait For Love - 4:07