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  • Ibe Bey

ALBUM REVIEW: Strand of Oaks, In Heaven

Grade: C+

Strand of Oaks is a project started by Austin based singer-songwriter Timothy Showalter. In Heaven is Showalter’s seventh project, and was written in the shadow of the losses of his cat and mother-in-law. Despite this, Showalter describes the record as a celebration of life and music.

In Heaven is one of those records that just oozes nostalgia. The first track, “Galacticana” is a rock ballad with some nice harmonies and a cool little guitar solo. It’s one of those records you want to drive down the highway to at night. It’s kind of got down-bad vibes but it’s about grief so why not? There’s an overall cinematic vibe to this album that can be seen through the production. Tracks go from booming rock inspired vibes to more chill songs like “Somewhere in Chicago”. There’s a huge through-line of Springsteen influence in this record that gives it that bigger than life feeling that Showalter spoke of.

In many ways, “In Heaven” feels like a mix between the old and new. This happens nicely on tracks like “Sunbathers”, a great melding of the two words. It’s a simple Americana track that just repeats itself and slowly builds up to this great chorus. By the end of the song you don’t even realize how emotionally spent you are. I’m also impressed by how well written all of the tracks are. Even “Sister Saturn,” which I thought had potential to be corny, was spiced up by some synths that somewhat saved it. And it’s through sticking to some of these traditions that the album begins to feel familiar.

In Heaven does well re-treading the path of folk inspired rock before it, but the record doesn’t offer any revolutionary developments in the genre. It’s a good project for sure, but it’s no Big Red Machine. There’s no surprises here, it’s just really good and that’s okay. This record has a lot of potential to have replay value, but I don’t see myself returning to the project as a whole for it’s ideas. While you may find it familiar, In Heaven is a solid folk inspired indie project that does the basics really well, and is a must listen for people who are craving some solid flannel music.

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