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The Oaks

Songs for Waiting

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There's much to be made of what surrounds Songs for Waiting. There's the story of guitarist Ryan Costello selling all his belongings and moving to Afghanistan to teach war refugees how to farm. And there's the fact that 50 percent of the disc's profits go to refugee efforts. Though these things are notable, it's not what surrounds Songs for Waiting that matters; all the good will in the world can't make up for mediocre music. Thankfully, these 10 tracks of delicate, well-crafted indie pop find the Oaks moving beyond the uninspiring blandness of Our Fathers and the Things They Left Behind and delivering a warm and occasionally epic sound. There's a deceptively simple vibe to the Oaks' arrangements; many songs start as simple guy-and-guitar numbers and then blossom into organic set pieces about Dietrich Bonhoeffer or, unsurprisingly, refugees and other victims of war. Thankfully, the messaging is delivered in an unearnest lyrical approach, which only serves to emphasize the uniqueness of the group's sound. 4 stars.

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