eMusic Review 0
"Put down the phone, it hasn't worked for years," Tim Showalter, the one-man band behind Strand of Oaks, sings on "Bonfire." It's a shaded but vivid lyric, quietly chilling and warm at the same time, insinuating and subtle, illuminating two people trapped together forever, trying to figure out how to coexist. "Let's stay here, and be calm," his gentle tenor coos before the song unwraps a molasses-like synth line. This is what the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, native does on the haunting, elusive Pope Killdragon: He draws portraits of people on the brink of love or fear or both. His voice is a desiccated husk of despair, sometimes accompanying plaintive acoustic compositions, like the folkloric "Alex Kona," or soaring above a "Cowgirl in the Sand"-style blizzard of fuzz and distortion, as on "Giant's Despair." This is a deeply delicate album.
Showalter was a confessionalist on his last album, the darkly funny Leave Ruin, detailing the dissolution of a relationship and the literal burning down of his home. Those times are gone. He's older now, married. And so he tells stories, mostly, refracting his experience onto people he knows and some he's invented. And his way with a story is terribly engrossing, offering small… read more »