Tim Showalter’s had a lot of healing to do. A lifetime of regrets, a faltering marriage, three weeks of furious musical soul-searching and a near fatal car crash went into creating the urgent agonies of his fourth Strand Of Oaks album, all of it utterly worthwhile.
Heal is a triumph of cathartic rock, from the pumping Americana grit of Goshen ’97 – a misty-eyed homage to his carefree youth transformed by a guesting J Mascis into a grunge Motorcycle Emptiness – through an 80s gothtronic title track dissecting infidelity, alcoholism and his wilderness years. Then there’s its doomy centrepiece, JM, and the ultimately hopeful denouement Wait For Love.
Mainlining Tango In The Night, The Rising and Heartbeat City down a dirty needle, it’s highway FM synth rock as psychotherapy, brutally honest and brittle with invention throughout.