Strand of Oaks // HEAL
The Philadelphia storyteller turns the camera on himself on the unflinching HEAL.
Strands of Oak
Strands of Oak's Timothy Showalter's always had a knack for creating raw, captivating songs with fantastical premises – a post-apocalyptic world here, a vengeful Dan Aykroyd seeking out James Belushi's drug dealer there – but the Philadelphia storyteller turns the camera on himself on the unflinching HEAL. For his musical autobiography, Showalter turns up the volume, eschewing his stripped-down Americana of past works with roaring '70s-style rock. The change hits immediately, as opener "Goshen '97" roars along with help from Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis on guitar while Showalter gives us a glimpse into his teenage years. "I was lonely but I was having fun," he sings, a youth depending on music for solace. The theme of music as a life raft in a sea of tough times sticks out in the album, particularly on the excellent slow-burner "JM," a tribute to the late Jason Molina. Now Showalter uses his own music to overcome his personal struggles, providing excellent source material for others looking to HEAL.