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Sister Hazel


Review by Gary Hill

There is something to be said for the charm of leaving a few rough edges around both songwriting and production. Sister Hazel has always written consistently strong cuts in the alternative rock vein. While contemporaries like Matchbox Twenty and Train have had a higher level of popularity, in many ways this band has produced better music. This album is no exception. It just seems like they have gotten too good at producing the classic pop rock song. The quirky, slightly rough around the edges sound that was always present in their work is gone on most of this. The production is generally flawless, too. Both of these things take away a bit of the charm. Still, the disc is populated with catchy and potent alternative rock hits. They get a bit adventurous on "I Will Come Through", wandering into the musical territory of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Lenny Kravitz. The end result here is a strong album that could have been a little stronger with a little less effort towards achieving perfection. Everything on the album works reasonably well, and some songs are exceptional. I guess my advice to the band for their next disc would be, "don't try so hard."

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Track by Track Review
This is a mid-tempo rocker that has a solid structure. It's really amazing ho potent of a pop rock cut these guys consistently produce.
Lay It Down
This one doesn't differ too much from the previous cut, but when the formula works, why mess with it? It's a bit more up-tempo than the album opener, though.
World Inside My Head
Starting as a piano based ballad, this cut comes across as more heartfelt and intimate than the previous two tracks. As the band joins in, the intensity ramps up. Beatles influences occasionally appear here. This one is a standout cut.
Hold On
This one has a killer retro jazzy texture. The vocals here have that immediate quality at times, but not throughout. The arrangement here is really its biggest saving grace.
I Will Come Through
This is a bit of a change of pace. As it starts and through the verse it feels more like the fast paced quirky funk of Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the chorus could easily pass as a Lenny Kravitz track. Although a nice change of pace, I'm not sure how the long-time Sister Hazel fans will feel about this one.
All About The Love
This is a looser, jam-type cut that is definitely fun. It has a slightly rough, but quite cool vocal arrangement.
In The Moment
Mellow acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop for this touching balled. It is good, but could stand a little bit of change of pace. It reminds me just a little of something The Band might do.
This is more straightforward folky alternative rock with a slight country twinge. It gets an infusion of power and crunch later. It's not a bad number, but not a standout. The guitar solo is quite tasty, though.
Another Me
This is a bit higher energy than some of the material on show here, but it leans toward over-produced at times. It's definitely a strong pop rock cut, but I think they actually over thought this one a little.
This has a cool, hard edged, almost punky main chorded riff. As it drops to the verse it's more in a pretty standard alternative rock style. This is another that is good, but just a little too much like a lot of the other material.
Just What I Needed
Now this is a real treat! They put in a strong cover of the classic Cars' song. There are no real surprises here. It's just a good updating of a killer cut.
This is a pretty, fun and rather intricate acoustic guitar solo. It's fairly short but effective, both on its own and as a nice change of pace.
Green (Welcome To The World)
The group chose a pretty tried and true Sister Hazel rocker as the album closer. This one is a strong ending to a very good, but not quite great, album.
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