Tim Showalter is becoming a specialist in songs about recovery and generally getting his shit together. This is his sixth full-length studio release under the Strand Of Oaks moniker and the third one I've reviewed here at W&H.
The press releases for 'Heal' in 2014 and 'Hard Love' were both at pains to stress that Showalter is a reformed character coming to terms with various forms of existential crisis.
The PR for 'Eraserland' follows the same pattern as we hear of how he spent two weeks alone in Wildwood, New Jersey seeking to rekindle his passion for music-making. “When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear", he confesses.
He ended up concluding that life doesn't come with any user manual so, with nothing to lose, he duly penned ten songs that speak of a "rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be”
Despite declaring "I don't feel it anymore" in the opening line of the opening tune (Weird Ways) the tracks suggest a mood of exuberance rather than soul-searching despair.
Hyperspace Blues could be an Arcade Fire stadium blitzer and if the synthy rock of the other tunes sounds like My Morning Jacket that would be because MMJ members Carl Broemel (guitar), Patrick Hallahan (drums), Bo Koster (keys), and Tom Blankenship (bass) were part of his backing band.
Every song was recorded live at La La Land Studios in Louisville, Kentucky culminating in the epic nine plus minute Neil Youngy sprawl of Forever Chords of which Showalter says "I felt like this is either the last song I ever need to write, or the rebirth of Strand of Oaks".”
My money's on the latter as it feels as if there are plenty more creative awakenings where this one came from.
Strand Of Oaks website