Strand of Oaks

We've grown into an old age, perhaps a middle age, here with Timothy Showalter and his musical project Strand of Oaks. We're twixt that age when we've started reeling from time that's railed on us and has reeled off like a marauding storm system, knocking us down like all of the weakest branches and leaves of a tall and proud tree and a time when we were overcome with energy and defiance. It bears the markings of a man who's been swayed and bowed, then embattled and tipped until they've regained a balance somewhere in the distant future. It's a future that's haggard and humble, melancholy and stripped of all artifice. The recollections that Showalter makes in these gorgeous songs that remind us of the fragile relationships we have with our loved ones and those that love us impossibly from afar and how they can easily crumble like dried out bread. There is a heartbreaking reach that Showalter and Strand of Oaks gets to with all of his grief-stained and grounding lyrics - all of which read as long-harbored confessions and brilliant odes to the stumbles that have been made over the years. They beg for love and they beg for forgiveness, these words, opening the souls that they're coming from and just crying if they must, soaking their tee-shirts with years of remorse and regret if there's any thought that an act like that could help. "Lawns Breed Songs," is as emotional as father and son confrontational songs go. It involves a middle son who admits that he's "just young and selfish" and pops banging on his chest and demanding his way - as he did in his younger years - wasn't going to work well. It was what led to the separation, the rift that's been growing and leading to what seems to be a deathbed reconciliation - a meeting of what both wanted to believe about the other all along: that they couldn't have meant any more to each other than they did and that all of the fighting and pushing were these feelings coming out in their own ways. The young band, talking to his father, insists, "We don't need a drink to talk." It brings the relationship of father and child into such a devastatingly beautiful synopsis - where the complicated situation is never all that complicated. There is undying love and there is undying stubbornness coming from a child needing to not always been associated with another man who can claim almost sole responsibility for the junior's existence. It's pretty heavy and yet, Showalter here summarizes it all with a spectacular folk song that will kill you in ways you didn't expect it to. He deals with the end of the world and illicit love affairs in the church the same way, finding ways to make us cry from the simplicity of the sentiments.

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