Everything changed for Timothy Showalter when he released Heal, the hefty breakthrough album that took his project Strand Of Oaks around the world.

Hard Love expands on Heal’s autobiographical nature, as Showalter battles the wild excesses of his dream and the reality of his decisions. It’s an overall deeper reflective mood, but by no means is he wallowing. First single ‘Radio Kids’ is a punchy admittance that he is not as far removed from his chart-seeking counterparts as he once thought. The psychedelic tones of the whole album whirl through ‘Salt Brothers’ especially: the guitars practically weep through the speakers, going places that Showalter possibly couldn’t with words. ‘Everything’ pushes further with enough Southern-fried menace it’s almost tangible.


The tender, raw ballad ‘Cry’ showcases an artist willing to drop his guard and expose a fragile being. It’s one of the most intimate and honest moments on the record. ‘Rest Of It’ is a solid reminder that rock’n’roll is about having fun, containing a shout-along chorus and a solo that screams for a live stage. ‘Taking Acid And Talking To My Brother’ closes the album in grandiose but endearing style, with an eight-minute behemoth that takes you on a wild, swirling journey of an attempt to process thoughts of loss, purpose, mortality and family.


Hard Love is an honest, humble and cohesive reflection of a man trying to understand it all. Each song is both a consolation and celebration of life lived completely.

Hard Love by Strand Of Oaks is out now through Dead Oceans/Inertia.

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