Like many good singer/songwriters, Timothy Showalter harnesses his personal dramas and setbacks into potent songs about growing up in Goshen, Ind., and wrestling his demons — sometimes within the span of the same song.
On his fourth record, the June-released HEAL, the now Philly-based Showalter, aka Strand of Oaks, sheds some of the minimal Folk Rock from his previous endeavors and delves into a world of warm, synth-driven beats and guitar Rock.
On the album’s titular track, Showalter expresses how “you gotta heal” with the Nebraska-era passion of Springsteen. “Same Emotions” continues the intensity but borders on almost Dance music, as he sings in his Jim James-esque vocals. On “Mirage Year,” Showalter juxtaposes a lovely piano against a distorted and harsh guitar, generating a fury of feelings. “Shut In” almost sounds happy, and on slow-burner “Woke Up to the Light,” it sounds as if Showalter has buried those past troubles.
In an interview with Grantland, Showalter stated: “This record is me standing on a cliff with, like, this thunderstorm of darkness and bad experiences. I could either jump off the cliff and give in or I could just put both middle fingers up in the air and be like, ‘Fuck you! I am gonna fight you. You are not gonna destroy me.’” As an artist, he’s greatly benefited from choosing the latter.
For his live shows, Showalter employs a full band, which elevates his songs to another level. It’s unfortunate Showalter had to experience such tragedies — like his house burning down, a failed marriage and a concussion from a car accident — in order to write such tremendous songs, but those kind of things have plucked Showalter out of obscurity and mounted him in the spotlight as a force to be reckoned with.
STRAND OF OAKS performs Thursday, Aug. 14 at MOTR Pub. The show is free. More info here .