Sister Hazel

Adrenaline / Wandering Hazel, 2006


REVIEW BY: Shane M. Liebler


Even if Sister Hazel is channeling their own HORDE-era sound, something about Absolutely sounds derivative and inessential, so far removed from the mid-'90s.

Whether it's the occasional Richard Marx production, predictable lyrics or borrowed adult contemporary riffs, the roots rockers’ sixth studio LP leaves a lot of empty space between 13 tracks.

Album opener “Shame” kicks things off with a pleasant, if overly refined, Black Crowes-like lick that quickly flattens out over the course of four minutes. Lead single “Meet Me In The Memory” and “Hey Hey” further dilutes the veteran Florida quintet's lofty pop goals.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Hello, It's Me” sounds irritatingly similar to Eagle-Eye Cherry's late '90s hit “Save Tonight.” But, even that song had better content than the wince-worthy chorus about a girl leaving behind her jacket after a date: “Hello it's me / Can I come over?/You see, I've got your favorite coat / It could be cold and rain tomorrow / I couldn't stand to see you soaked.” Blah.

The weepy “Tear By Tear” that follows veers off course in the final rambling verse that depicts various struggles and ends in a frustrated high school student eating a bullet:“The doctor he cries 'cause his last patient died / Did I mention before he was a father of five? / And the waitress is home / Well, she can't pay her loan…” It goes on like this until “Everything Else Disappears,” a listenable country-esque ballad that closes out the record.

In a lot of cases Absolutely's noble intentions miss the mark because of poor rhyme schemes. It’s a good thing that the always-touring Sister Hazel has built up a solid fan base over the last 13 years or so. And thankfully for those fans, it ain't all bad. Lead strummer and vocalist Ken Block and guitarist Drew Copeland blend their voices impeccably in each chorus much as they most memorably did on their Blues Traveler-tinged hit “All For You.”

The instrumentation too is well coordinated and speaks to the band's long time together. It’s really the ultra-glossy production that softens the rock edge and dulls the feeling here. Absolutely should please the group's horde (sic) of fans and Guster/O.A.R. enthusiasts, but only completists need apply.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Shane M. Liebler and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Adrenaline / Wandering Hazel, and is used for informational purposes only.