Strand of Oaks – Heal

Timothy Showalter’s Strand of Oaks has, up to now, been a very solid run-of-the-mill folk singer-songwriter, but on Heal, he and the group greatly expand their sound and explore other sonic realms. The first few albums were slow melancholic works, while the previous album, Dark Shores, showed some rockier edges. Heal ventures into more electronic sound with a 70s/80s feel and also sounds you would find on contemporary “indie” artists. I have really enjoyed all of their previous albums and Heal, despite its general shift in sound, is quite enjoyable as well. The album opens with Goshen ’97, which is an upbeat, driving rock song and the guitars, along with Showalter’s vocals, give it a bit of a southern rock feel. This song jumps out compared to previous albums alerting you this is a very different album. Showalter’s vocals are generally quite soft and remind me of Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam. The second song, Heal, changes gears again and shifts into an energetic electronic song that has a very 80s sound. Prior albums were quite melancholic, but on Heal it seems like Showalter is just that—healed. He is not afraid to venture into new territory on this release. Several other songs have this new electronic sound, such as Same Emotions and Woke Up to the Light. About half of the album is not quite different from previous releases, but Heal does have a great balance between the varieties of styles on it. JM is a tribute to the late great Jason Molina of Songs:Ohia and is one of the more powerful, standout tracks. Heal is a great new direction for Strand of Oaks. It has enough of the old and enough of the new to keep fans happy. The only complaint I have is some songs have moments that sound like generic “indie” rock, but generally the overall sound is solid. Strand of Oaks is geared up for promising days ahead.

Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Folk, Indie
Country: USA
Label: Dead Oceans
Release: June 24, 2014

1. Goshen ’97
2. Heal
3. Same Emotions
4. Shut In
5. Woke Up To The Light
6. JM
7. Plymouth
8. Mirage Year
9. For Me
10. Wait For Love

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