Album Review: ‘Waiting’ lends band new voice
Orchestrated indie rock can sometimes be a little over the top. The advent of prolific songwriting can be taken to the point of being too good to bear.
Personally, I never really get tired of it, but it’s especially worthwhile when it’s done for a purpose, and done well.
The Oaks new album Songs for Waiting accomplishes a wonderfully spiritual sounding set of songs and all with an incredibly impressive homegrown recording quality. And, as if transcending barriers isn’t enough for an album to do, so have the very people who made it.
Singer-songwriter Ryan Costello went through a bout of hardship in 2001. He was in his mid-20s in the wake of 9/11 when his car engine caught on fire, and he lost his job in the same week. He became ill and was stuck in bed for days, and then he had a wake-up call that comes once in a lifetime.
"After that point of surrender, I began to feel myself drawn to Afghanistan, a feeling that became stronger and stronger until I would almost describe it as a calling," Costello told Paste Magazine.
Feeling no other alternative, Costello eventually sold everything he owned and went overseas to work as a member of the Global Hope Network in 2003, where he helped Afghans rebuild part of the lives they lost when the Taliban swept through and stole their pasts.
"I had friends in the central mountains who saw their families gunned down, saw the Taliban pour oil across their fields, and destroy their whole livelihood," Costello said.
Costello was determined to put his experience and everything he learned over two years into music. He played his guitar under the stars each night, and in 2005, came home to Orlando with a world of new material, which he brought to Matthew Antolick, a long-time respected and fellow musician, who was playing in a Moroccan band.
Costello writes of an Afghan proverb he learned: "The first day you meet, you are friends; the next day you meet, you are brothers."
From the duo came their first album Our Fathers and the Things We Left Behind, which became a huge success after selling out shows in their hometown and gaining some press for not only the sound, but also the band’s humanitarian efforts.
Costello and Antolick pledged 50 percent of all profits from album sales and track downloads to the Hope Network to aid widows and returned refugees from Afghanistan.
Now, still building momentum and still self-contained with inspiration and stories to tell, the band has grown to an extraordinary six-piece that contains, among its members, more than enough musical talent to compose jazz, classical and rock melodies. It is sometimes ambient, sometimes instrumental and sometimes harmonic, but always pensive.
The Oaks manage to incorporate guitars, piano, organ, trumpet, trombone, bells, synthesizers, hand-drums, tambourines and more all at once. The peaceful union of each individual sound seems to truly echo the intent behind the music, tying it all into one single, solid bottom line.
"Broken from the womb, we are/ and all creation groans and waits," Costello sings.
No need to count your pennies. Stream the album right now at www.theoaksband.com.