"There's zero symbolism, and that's the scary thing," Timothy Showalter says. "Every single lyric is either a direct thought or a direct event. It's exactly my life."
The Philly musician who performs under the name Strand of Oaks is talking about his new album, HEAL, which in a way functions as a memoir. Fueled by a string of tragic personal incidents, from infidelity to a near-fatal auto accident, the album brings these events to life, from the teenage isolation of "Goshen 97" (a track featuring J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.) to the bittersweet romance of "Plymouth."
With his knockout band, the songs trace paths through anthemic rock, electronic pop and distortion-pedal-laden slow-burners. Showalter says the album title should be read in all-caps: "It's a command," he says. "I'm yelling it at myself."
Hear live performances of Strand of Oaks' songs on this episode of World Cafe.