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Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR. Find more music at WUNC's Back Porch Music.

Strand Of Oaks: Tiny Desk Concert

Strand Of Oaks' music is filled with bite and sometimes regret, but also a good deal of warmth. Neil Young is an obvious touchstone when the loud guitar solos kick in, but so is Jason Molina. In fact, the late Ohio singer-songwriter was the subject of the song that became my hook into the music of Strand Of Oaks; it's a song Timothy Showalter sings here at the Tiny Desk that can also be found on his 2014 album HEAL; it's called "JM."

I was an Indiana kid, gettin' no one in my bed

I had your sweet tunes to play

I was staring at the map, feeling fire in my head

I had your sweet tunes to play

I was mean to my dad, 'cause I was mean to myself

I had your sweet tunes to play

Stealing smokes in my car, with the windows way down

I had your sweet tunes to play, your sweet tunes to play

Showalter's words and life experiences — a bad relationship, a house that burned down — suggest a dark, even bitter, undercurrent. But when he drove alone in his van down from Philly and arrived at NPR here in D.C., he popped out after his drive with a warm smile and three guitars, one for each of the songs he'd play. We quickly bonded in the parking garage over our identical buckled Frye boots and love for vintage synthesizers. He turned out to be a sweetheart, and hearing these amazing songs with just him and a guitar was a treat to behold.

Set List

  • "Goshen '97"
  • "Plymouth"
  • "JM"
  • Credits

    Producers: Bob Boilen, Maggie Starbard; Editor: Morgan Walker; Audio Engineer: Brian Jarboe; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Maggie Starbard; Assistant Producer: Rachel Horn; photo by Maggie Starbard/NPR

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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