STRAND OF OAKS
“When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear…but then I realized how there really aren’t any rules for who you are, who you’ll become, or who you think you need to be. Eraserland is just that. It’s death to ego, and rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be.”
In December 2017, Tim Showalter was uncertain about his next record and the shape it would eventually take. With no new songs written and lacking any clear vision, he was unprepared for the message he would receive from his friend Carl Broemel, the conversation that would follow, and the album that would become Eraserland. Leading off with standout track “Weird Ways” and his powerful declaration of “I don’t feel it anymore,” Eraserland traces Showalter’s evolution from apprehension to creative awakening, carving out a new and compelling future for Strand of Oaks.
“This project seemed to just fall together naturally,” said Broemel, guitarist for My Morning Jacket. “I felt drawn to Tim’s positive energy and his albums…I threw it out there that I’d be happy to help in any way I could with the record.” Broemel quickly reignited Showalter’s interest in what would become Strand of Oaks’ sixth full-length studio release, and within 24 hours, My Morning Jacket members Patrick Hallahan (drums), Bo Koster (keys), and Tom Blankenship (bass) were also on board.
Squirrel Flower is the alias 22-year-old Ella Williams adopted for herself when writing songs and poetry as a child. Coming from a professional musical family spanning generations, Williams has always been surrounded by music. By 14 she started writing more seriously and released her first EP of folk music under her own name. After immersing herself in the DIY scene of her Boston hometown before moving to Iowa to study Art + Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality studies at Grinnell college, she found a more experimental sound, linking her choral roots, classical harmony and ethereal chord structures, and released her first EP as Squirrel Flower, "Early Winter Songs From Middle America." her second EP, Contact Sports, is a perfectly formed collection of songs about relationships; intimacy, dependency, betrayal and geography, set to the backdrop of the American Midwest. The songs represent push and pull of love and intimacy while also being meditations on place. From the fulsome guitar and visceral, cathartic breakdown of lead single ‘Conditions’ to the carefully layered beauty of ‘Hands Melt’, this varied collection frequently impresses with its maturity and craftsmanship. Tracks like the fuzzy, dimly-lit euphoria of ‘Daylight Savings’ are spellbinding in their turn of phrase as Williams sings “I know we’ve gained an hour, but I feel like we’ve lost two”.