Strand of Oaks, the stage name for Timothy Showalter, released a new single yesterday: An acoustic version of Galacticana from his pandemic album In Heaven. What a delightful surprise.

The original song begins with acoustic guitar but is quickly joined by drums and other instruments. This is a more spare, stripped-down version. The short electric guitar solo just after the midpoint and near the end are absent as is the emphasis driven by the drums in the latter part of the song. I've liked the original version for some time.

The song's delicacy is more prominent in this new version. It's just Timothy, his acoustic guitar, and a lovely melody. His elongation of drag into draaaaag, in particular, is my favortite lyrical part.

Many artists released music inspired by their time during the pandemic. Some were complete surprises, like Taylor Swift's two albums Folklore and Evermore, which are both thoroughly enjoyable.

Galacticana gets right to the point. It is a full-throttle lamentation on what Timothy has been missing during the pandemic suspension of our normal lives and, particularly for him, touring:

I believe that ecstasy happens when we all get together
Standing right in front of me feeding off the energy together

By adding an almost imperceptable pause between syllables in each occurance of the word together, Timothy emphases precisely what we have all been denied for so long. Having only recently been to my first live music shows in almost two years, I feel the same absence from the other side of the stage.

I'm a sucker for any song with a great hook, whether that's a beat, a melody, or a refrain. Galacticana is a perfect example because it comes with a beautiful refrain:

I don't want to drag you down
I don't mean to drag you down

This song by Stand of Oaks will not drag you down – even if we're not all fully together yet. Don't trust me, judge for yourself:

Galacticana Acoustic is available for purchase now on Bandcamp (and via many other stores); the album containing the original version is also available.

If you like the new single, I recommend digging into the full Strand of Oaks catalog. There is a lot of variety covering several styles. You will be rewarded.

Lastly, for those who are curious how this new version differs from the original, I have included it below.