Sister Hazel “Release”

12Oct09

Sister Hazel Album CoverSome CDs are extremely easy to listen to.  They don’t require too much thought and can be tossed into the CD player regardless of your mood.  Sister Hazel’s latest release, “Release,” happens to be one of those CDs.  I have listened to this while working on the most boring homework assignment, while I was extremely upset and during a drive on one of the sunniest days of the semester.

It is music like this that I respect quite a bit.  I can’t deny that I like a challenge when I listen to certain music.  I love to analyze the lyrics and try and figure out what the artist/songwriter is trying to say.  However, there are definitely times where I would rather just sit…and listen.  With “Release,” I can do just that.  This rock CD is the group’s 7th release.  Each member contributed at least two songs to the 12 track album, creating track list with a whole slew of full sounding songs.

[Random sidenote: If you can't think of why you know the name "Sister Hazel," look up the song All for You on Google, and relive the memories you created in 1996.  Otherwise, it could be because the band has sold over 2 million records and is on Twitter's "Recommended User's list.  Then again...it could be the mere fact that they have had 7 top 3o singles.  No big deal.]

The “chill” vibe heard on “Release” is addicting.  It relaxes me almost immediately and let’s me truly enjoy what I’m listening to.  Yes, it is possible for music to have a relaxing effect.  Once you sort through all of the computerized music that is attacking radio stations everywhere and take a second to appreciate the full sound a band like Sister Hazel can create, you may take a trip back to the days where instruments created music.  Trust me, it’s better there.

Lead singer Ken Block uses the same conversational tone he used on his solo album.  Just as it did on his own album, his voice makes the CD comfortable to listen to, as if the band happened to be hanging out in your living room with you, performing nonchalantly.

Choosing standout songs made me realize something else about this album.  After looking at my “final list,” I went through and listened to the songs again.  None of them sound the same!  Sure, all of them are the same genre, but the general feel emanating from each song is different.  This truly makes me appreciate the talent the group has in the songwriting department.  They have an understanding of what it takes to make a well rounded album and used each bandmate’s strong points to create one great sounding CD.

The songs that best showcase this diversity are Take a Bow (a song driven by a rock vibe, more reminiscent of their previous work), Run for the Hills (a catchy, upbeat song that will be stuck in your head for days–not to worry, this is a good thing), Better Way (a slower, soft rock piece with strong lyrics and a string section ranging from violins to electric guitars), and Vacation Rain (a buoyant song that makes me want to skip down the street with the shoelaces of my bright pink Converse untied…listen and you will understand).

One song served as a pleasant surprise to me, too, and I feel as though I can’t finish this review without commenting on it.  One Life, an “almost ballad,” flew out of my computer speakers with an unexpected smoothness.  A song that deals with an individual looking back on a past relationship and longing to be with that person once again, One Life made me stop working on outside things for the entirety of the song.  It made me curious, and made me listen to it again…and again.  The vocals and softer instrumentals come together to create a sound representative of the vulnerability the aforementioned individual is feeling.  When the lyrics and instrumentals form a relationship like that, the song leaves me in awe.

If you’re in the mood for an upbeat song, grab “Release.”  If you’d rather take a 5 minute break and listen to a slow song, scroll to “Release” on your iPod and veg out.  If you feel like joining me in running around like a little kid with your shoelaces untied to escape reality for a bit, blast “Release” from a CD player on your front porch and go for it.  The diversity offered on this CD is amazing, and is sure to speak to you, regardless of your mood.

Take a Bow:

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