The last time we saw Strand of Oaks’ Timothy Showalter was on 2019’s Eraserland. This album channeled heartfelt rock, showcasing Showalter’s ability to write deeply personal songs. On Showalter’s latest release, Ambient for Change, he sets aside these personal explorations, using his songwriting abilities to provide supportive, healing energies to a country in turmoil.

Throughout five distinct instrumental tracks, Showalter explores ambient music’s ability to inspire and heal. “Wake” opens the project: it’s an energetic track that almost serves as a deconstruction of synth-pop rather than ambient music, with a dense wall of accompanying sounds. “Think” is characterized by a kick drum with heavy sidechain compression, pulsing through an otherwise indistinguishable mix. The bassline almost has a swung feel, juxtaposing the otherwise straight beats and effervescent collage of sounds.

“Confusion” is the least instrumentally diverse of all the pieces, relying on a single type of synth to cover every line. The use of a singular type of synth allows each line to constantly harmonize, creating shifting overtones which are often indistinguishable from the synths themselves. The resulting tones create a translucent cloud of sound, obscuring the ears from picking up specific lines.

The final track, “Morning,” is a deeply contemplative song, led by a piano. The piano topline gains momentum toward the end, like a sun finally peeking over the horizon, ready to carry light through its long ascent in the sky. The piece ends rather abruptly, creating space for a moment of quiet introspection, a moment to heal.

On Bandcamp, Showalter signs off with the following:

“I’ve spent a lot of my life talking and singing but there are no words on this record… I hope that these songs bring peace but at the same time I hope that they can also provide a safe space for meditation and reflection on ways that we can all help be there for one another.

All proceeds from this recording will be going to NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Black Lives Matter
Much Love,
Tim – Strand of Oaks”

Purchase Strand of Oaks’ Ambient for Change here.