HEAL is Philly-based singer/songwriter Timothy Showalter’s fourth full-length under the moniker Strand Of Oaks. The album will immediately appeal to fans of big-sounding Americana-rock bands like My Morning Jacket (especially Jim James fans), Band Of Horses, as well as The War On Drugs.
Opener “Goshen ‘97” kicks of HEAL with a melodic guitar jam on which Showalter reflects on his earlier days of ‘Singin’ Pumpkins in the mirror/Porn and menthols under my bed’ accompanied by the unmistakable wail of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis on lead guitar.
Track 4, “Shut In” reminds me of Ryan Adams vocally and inhabits similar territory as The War On Drugs reflective, contemplative, synth-assisted, not quite ballads. A superb soaring guitar solo at 2:15 gives way to an unexpected stripped down vocal and piano outro. Great tune.
Clocking in at nearly 71/2 minutes, “JM” (Track 6) is an ode to the late Jason Molina of Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. This track rides a wave (peaks and valleys) of guitars and is reminiscent of Neil Young, as Showalter sings ‘I was an Indiana kid…I had your sweet tunes to play.’
Recommended tracks : 1, 4, 6, 7, 9