Album Reviews Strand Of Oaks Hard Love

Published on February 21st, 2017 | by Aaron Cooper

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Strand Of Oaks: Hard Love | Cathartic Rock N’ Roll For The Soul

Strand Of Oaks Hard LoveAs with all forms of self-expression, songwriting is about getting whats in your head onto a recording. Sharing your emotions behind the mask of melody can be cathartic. Psychological relief through song is what Timothy Showalter does best with his alt rock project Strand Of Oaks.

On his 5th album Hard Love, Showalter has found a happy medium between therapy and rock n’ roll by incorporating the fun and dark side of each.

Divorce, homelessness, and a near fatal car accident are just a few things Showalter has faced during his adult life.

All of which have influenced his previous releases, most notably his 2014 breakthrough Heal. However, despite tackling such heavy subject matters, Hard Love never feels like a pity party. The emotional distress is prevelent but fine tuned by Showalter’s knack for Paul Westerberg melodies.

The lead single “Radio Kids” is a nostalgic love letter to the youthful days when blocking out the world was as easy as putting on a set of headphones. The stand out rock song is the T- Rex meets Replacements “Rest Of It”.

When Hard Love dips into emotional territory, it’s rarely delicate.

strand of oaks review 2017“Quit It” begins as something of a ballad about numbing pain with alcohol before changing into a tirade about addiction. Even the piano driven centerpiece “Cry” is overtaken by bizarre samples before ending abruptly. The psychedelic closer “Taking Acid and Talking To My Brother” tells the story of Showalter’s brother in a medically induced coma.

I’m a firm believer in expressing my deepest insecurities through art. In many ways, this is the kind of music I wish I could produce. It’s obvious Showalter uses Strand Of Oaks to keep himself grounded. Even songs about relishing the lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock n roll, are strangely empowering. Hard Love is candid and honest but never exhausting. Strand Of Oaks delivers just the right amount of emotion, psyche, and attitude to make Hard Love the most satisfying record of the year so far.

Rating: 5/5

Hard Love is available on vinyl, digital, cassette, and cd on bandcamp

Musician, vinyl collector, freelance writer and a lover of all things music. I don’t care if it’s old, new, or popular in the industry, if it’s authentic, I can dig it at least to some degree. Art is subjective and the only thing important to me music wise, is how it makes me feel.

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3 Responses to Strand Of Oaks: Hard Love | Cathartic Rock N’ Roll For The Soul

  1. T0PCrew107 says:

    Okay I listened to this album because you praised it so much. You know what? It sounds like shit. This is just boring hipster shit for people like you who have never dealt with real issues in their lives.
    Every song is about fucking or doing drugs. Wow that’s really deep. You blasted Twenty One Pilots for writing terrible music but they write songs that people can relate to. Not this shit.

    You are just an elitist prick who is probably paid to write puff pieces for artists who will never get radio play. And this article just proves that.

    Twenty One Pilots won a shit ton of Grammys a couple weeks ago. What has this guy done?

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