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eTown Time Capsule: Strand of Oaks / Anna Burch

Join us at eTown Hall as we revisit a show from 2019 featuring tattooed teddy bear Timothy Showalter–who goes by the stage name Strand Of Oaks, and singer-songwriter Anna Burch. Nick also interviews Murray Fisher of the Billion Oyster Project about the importance of oysters for clean water and storm mitigation.

Strand of Oaks

The project of Indiana-born, Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter and producer Tim Showalter, Strand of Oaks specializes in bold and anthemic indie Americana that draws from classic rock and folk. Skillfully blending traditional singer/songwriter introspection with stadium-ready melodies in the vein of artists like War on Drugs and My Morning Jacket, Showalter emerged in 2009 with Leave Ruin. He continued to develop as a songwriter on subsequent outings like Heal (2014) and Eraserland (2019), testing his emotional limits and seeking catharsis in the no man’s land between joy and ruin. He moved into the next decade with 2021’s In Heaven, his eighth album.

Showalter, who began writing and performing in 2003, issued his first collection of songs under the moniker Leave Ruin in 2009 via the Pennsylvania-based indie label La Société Expéditionnaire. Strand of Oaks’ sophomore outing, the appropriately titled Heal, arrived in 2014 via Dead Oceans Records after a period of turmoil and self-reflection. Returning from a hectic and often hedonistic tour, Showalter reentered the studio to record his follow-up to Heal. Again using his own life experiences as inspiration, the album melded the sound of Alan McGee’s Creation Records’ output with dub and classic rock influences. The resulting Hard Love, which was produced by Nicolas Vernhes (Speedy Ortiz, Dirty Projectors), appeared at the beginning of 2017 — Harder Love, a companion piece featuring demos, B-sides, and alternative renditions arrived the following year. Showalter teamed up with My Morning Jacket members Carl Broemel, Bo Koster, Patrick Hallahan, and Tom Blankenship for his next full-length, the emotionally charged Eraserland. In 2019, Western Vinyl reissued Showalter’s 2010 album Pope Killdragon, which was originally pressed in an edition of 300 copies and had been unavailable for years. Featuring a guest spot from Smashing Pumpkins’ James Iha, Strand of Oaks’ eighth album, In Heaven, appeared in 2021.

– James Christopher Monger (All Music)

Anna Burch

Detroit singer/songwriter Anna Burch pens breezy tunes with sharp, emotionally direct lyrics. Initially making folk-rock as part of the rootsy band Frontier Ruckus, then noisy indie pop as co-leader of the quartet Failed Flowers, she made her solo debut with the exceptional full-length Quit the Curse in 2018.

Burch developed a taste for the arts early on with an affinity for Disney songs during her childhood years and the work of Fiona Apple in her teens. She covered songs by the latter at open-mike nights, and by the age of 18 she was recording and touring with her first band, Frontier Ruckus. She eventually went on to share lead vocal duties in the Ann Arbor-based Failed Flowers. It was during this time that Burch began to pen her own material. After a brief hiatus from music while she attended graduate school in Chicago, she returned to songwriting in Detroit in 2014. Her own songs had begun to take on more shape and structure, with friends on the scene encouraging her to assemble a live band to begin performing the demo ideas she had.

Burch’s first official release was an eponymous split single with fellow Detroit artist Stef Chura in early 2016. The singer began earning comparisons to artists like Waxahatchee and Courtney Barnett before fellow Michigan-based musician Fred Thomas sent some of her demos to his label, Polyvinyl. This led to the attention of producer/engineer Collin Dupuis (Lana Del Rey, Angel Olsen), who offered to help mix her songs. The result consisted of nine songs that became Burch’s debut album, Quit the Curse. The record saw release via Polyvinyl in early 2018. A split single with Thomas was released when the two toured together later in the year. Burch worked on material while touring for Quit the Curse, then worked with producer Sam Evian in his home studio located in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. Her second album, the gentler, more isolated If You’re Dreaming, was released in 2020.

– Rob Wacey (All Music)