Strand of Oaks is the project by songwriter/musician Tim Showalter, and it's a stunner. It was just released and is available for now only at emusic.com. It's a taut, incredibly tense collection of haunting acoustic-based tracks, with the occasional release into gripping electric rock. Showalter's voice is expressive and beautiful, and musically he incorporates just enough color and unexpected twists to add the right flair of drama and feeling to the songs. Truly imaginative production.
"Alex Kona" is an immediate standout for me. Definitely a Neil Young "On the Beach" vibe. The lyrics are sparse and enigmatic, but powerful. They hint at horrible things untold. "You don't understand what it's like growing up here" is the ending refrain, repeated forlornly... before the burst of Crazy Horse-style feedback called "Giant's Despair" provides release.
Even on first listen, I have the feeling I will be spending a great deal of time with this record. It's exceptionally well done; vocally, lyrically, musically - and a gorgeous, rich production that is warm and immediate.
Get this album.