Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks has made his name as a confessional songwriter, even as his music has veered from the hushed folk of his early records to the roaring synth-rock of his 2014 breakthrough LP, Heal. But on his latest album, Hard Love, Showalter ponders the damage that too much honesty in his art has wrought on his personal life.
During the press cycle for Heal, Showalter recounted the album’s origin story, which included highly sensitive revelations about his marriage. A former schoolteacher with a friendly, gregarious manner, Showalter is an open book in his songs and in conversation, almost to a fault. On previous records like 2009’s Leave Ruin, a quietly crushing meditation on a failed relationship, Showalter wrote bracingly about his personal life. But Heal took this introspection to a new level, with Showalter writing about hurt, betrayal, and forgiveness over thunderous power chords (provided by guest shredder J. Mascis) and New Order-style electro-rhythms.
In retrospect, Showalter wishes he had talked to a therapist “and not done 4,000 interviews,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I was so raw that I needed to just talk about sh*t. I’m a talker anyway, but it was just that diarrhea of the mouth. I didn’t know how to stop.”
For Hard Love, Showalter sought to shed the trappings of the sensitive singer-songwriter in favor of a more visceral musical approach. While Heal found Showalter moving in an arena-rock direction, he has now full-on embraced a hypnotic, stoner-rock sound informed by recent experimentation with psychedelic drugs.