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Strand of Oaks ‘HEAL’ engages with its charisma

Published 5:32pm Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some albums are tailor made for their season.

Strand of Oaks’ “HEAL” comes right in time for the heart of summer, as we’re preparing for the Fourth of July and enjoying — well, trying to — the muggy summer weather.

I’ll be fully honest. I listened to this album on a whim for a simple reason: The band’s name sounded cool — Strand of Oaks.

I take gambles on many other albums only to be disappointed. But right away, Timothy Showalter — the musician behind Strand of Oak — boasts an engaging charisma on “HEAL.”

Opening track “Goshen ‘97” plays with a vibrant, reminiscent enthusiasm of Showalter singing about his past, discovering music, hiding menthol cigarettes and recording cassette tapes. But it’s not all pleasant reminiscing; there’s plenty of angst in there. Though he looks back tenderly in the track, he remembers himself by singing, “I was lonely, but I was having fun.”

Showalter’s guitar-heavy rock is a bit reminiscent of Jim James, the frontman of My Morning Jacket. He exudes a similar enthusiasm. Plus, like James, he’s a burly guy with long hair and a big beard.

But Showalter isn’t as guitar-centric through the album as My Morning Jacket. He takes on a dark, poppy note on keyboard heavy tunes like “HEAL” and “Same Emotions.”

Despite the engaging approach, Showalter manages to cut deeper with reflective songs line “JM.”

Other Listens:

“Evil Urges” by My Morning Jacket

Something about “Heal” by Strand of Oaks reminded me of “Evil Urges” by My Morning Jacket.

The song simultaneously takes on a darker note than the band’s prior work.

Key tracks: “Evil Urges,” “Librarian” and “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2.”

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