Strand of Oaks: Miracle Focus (Western Vinyl) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Strand of Oaks

Miracle Focus

Western Vinyl

Jun 18, 2024 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Tim Showalter is on a hot streak. The man behind Strand of Oaks has broadened his creative output significantly over the last few years, diving deep into his love of painting and making his professional acting debut in the biker drama Mayans M.C. The diversification has clearly impacted his headspace as well as his day job; on the new Strand of Oaks record, Miracle Focus, he sounds like a man re-made.

The driving force of Miracle Focus is simple—it’s a celebration of life, a “love letter to bliss,” in Showalter’s words. Informed by his embrace of meditation and the influence of such high-watt lightning rods as Freddie Mercury and Alice Coltrane, the record attempts to build a kind of sleek futurist utopia, and from the slow-motion sprawl of opening track “More You,” Showalter and producer Kevin Ratterman go all in on the album’s club-leaning aesthetic. The synths are everywhere here; alternately sparkling and darkly foreboding, they give the record a distinctly synthetic polish (as do the drums, usually warped beyond any kind of organic recognition). Even the guitars get caught up in the progressive mandate; when a stray acoustic emerges through the sheen on “Party at Monster Lake” it’s against the backdrop of a stuttering industrial clatter.

Whereas on previous records Showalter has waded through the murk of personal trauma, on Miracle Focus he consciously sheds the darkness. In the record’s glistening surfaces and openhearted sentiments he is attempting to build an entirely new world, shedding his old skin in the process. It takes a little getting used to; his magnetism has often centered around the pain you hear just below the surface of his voice. That pain has served him in the past, but Showalter knows it can’t sustain him. On Miracle Focus he’s doing everything he can to move beyond it. (www.strandofoaks.net)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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