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Sister Hazel

Absolutely

(Wandering Hazel; US: 10 Oct 2006; UK: Available as import)

Anyone who slept through the latter half of the ‘90s might not know at this point who Sister Hazel is, so here’s the summary: Sister Hazel is an MOR rock band that deals in a vaguely Mellencampian sound with occasional harmonies reminiscent of the Eagles, wrapped up in a decidedly slick, highly produced candy shell.  Absolutely is the sixth album from the five-piece, and it sounds exactly as I remember Sister Hazel used to sound—sincere and poppy, with the vague sense of Americana wafting through.  “Mandolin Moon”, which features a little help from fellow ‘90s refugee Shawn Mullins, is the best thing here, featuring lots of beautifully thick three-part harmonies, and a short little power ballad called “Beautiful High” is concise and elegant the way these bands never were in the ‘90s.  Still, much of the album falls into a rut worthy of song titles like “Hey Hey”, “Anyway”, “Truth Is”, and “One Time”, perfectly generic nuggets that do fine to fill out an album, but aren’t going to convince anyone who isn’t already under Sister Hazel’s spell to give album number six a listen.  Absolutely is the sound of a band that’s comfortable—comfortable with its sound, comfortable with its audience, comfortable with the amount of fame that it has been granted in the decade-plus of its career.  If you yearn for a return to the sensitive-guys-with-guitars movement of the late ‘90s, Absolutely is your ticket home.

Rating:

Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.


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Sister Hazel -- "Mandolin Moon"
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