On Tuesday night, at Velvet Jones, the sonic waves of Tim Showalter’s latest album Hard Love, performed with his band Strand of Oaks, slowly soothed the aching hearts, the longing souls, and the good time listeners in the purple and red interior of the rectangular music chapel. After lead guitarist Jason Anderson warmed the crowd up with folk tunes and Heather McEntire followed with her lovely southern drawl, about 50 lucky attendees, myself included, would hear a magnificent performance.
Starting with “Taking Acid and Talking to My Brother,” the whirring guitars, the steady baseline and the heartbeat drums slowly settled the crowd into a trance. We became the Strand of Oaks, watered by drums, nurtured by the sunlight of music that only comes from gifted and vulnerable musicians who will bare their soul for the sake of empathy. We have all felt distance from our brother, we have all asked why irony isn’t abandoned for “Hard Love,” and why a good “Cry” feels so good on a lonely, cigarette-filled evening. The droning rhythm guitars and the gentle plucking of bass and lead guitars synchronize with a voice that has seen good love and terrible pain — thank goodness he lets us hear it. Live and on record, Hard Love is an album that tears down the walls between listener and musician allowing Tim to put his soul on view, and wow, is it a beautiful one.