On January 21 2016, Silverstein front man; Shane Told, dropped a surprise solo EP under the alias “River Oaks” after hinting for some time on his podcast (Lead Singer Syndrome) that he would possibly dabble in a solo project in the future. The EP, which is self-titled, explores a much softer, peppier musical approach, which stands in contrast to his work in Silverstein.
This EP does draw a lot from Silverstein musically, with choruses that feel very reminiscent of the desperate, melodramatic post-hardcore choruses that the band employs. The three track EP features track one, “Let You Down”, the EP’s first (and only) single which feels most like a Silverstein B-side, weaving through driving choruses with a more radio-friendly sensibility similar to a much more up-tempo take on The Gaslight Anthem. Told’s lyrics are still rather dark and self-loathing, discussing hopelessness in the face of a romantic relationship taking a turn for the worse.
Still, he shows a penchant for composing catchy, memorable choruses. The EP’s second track, “Mistakes”, is a much slower track, which features Told crooning above only twanging guitar picking and strumming. The track clocks in at two and a half minutes, making it the shortest track on the EP. Told sings about regret in the face of a decision that jeopardizes his relationship with someone, and how he wishes he could reverse that error and how he will fight to right his wrong.
The EP’s final track, “Roman Candle”, feels like a middle ground between the first two tracks, and is perhaps the greatest departure from his work in Silverstein, showing his dynamism as a songwriter. The strong finish to the song, complete with pounding drums and guitars, gives hope that Told will return with more music as River Oaks. This EP is a quick, yet explorative and impressive entry into his body of work as a musician, leaving listeners eager for more.