Strand Of Oaks - Hard Love album review

Invigorating fifth from Philly wildcat

Cover art for Strand Of Oaks - Hard Love

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His previous albums have found Tim Showalter, aka Strand Of Oaks, scanning the emotional debris of his often troubled life through a prism of folk, power-pop and electronica. New album Hard Love is altogether more bullish, Showalter unleashing his inner rock beast on a collection of songs that seem to reach for some kind of epiphany through sheer volume.

With a biker riff indebted to both Primal Scream and The Cult, not to mention an admirable guitar solo from Jason Anderson, the mighty Rest Of It is a good-time party in celebration of all things decadent. Its mirrored by Quit It, a skanky epic with a Clash-like urgency that details Showalter’s psychedelic awakening at an Australian festival a couple of years ago. There are softer moments too, particularly the plangent Cry, while the suitably trippy drone of Taking Acid And Talking To My Brother recounts the aftermath of his sibling’s near-fatal heart attack

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.