Sister Hazel is still going strong. With a career spanning over a decade, the Florida fivesome released their sixth album, “Absolutely,” in October and will be performing at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, on Dec. 14.
Touring has always been important for Sister Hazel; they’ve played over 15,000 live shows since 1996. “Touring is the way we’ve connected with people through the years,” bassist Jett Beres commented in a recent interview with the Hatchet. “As a band, you have to learn how to play live.” Consistent touring has translated into a dedicated core of fans, which the group calls “Hazelnuts”. “The fans have turned into a community for us,” said Beres.
Although it’s been a few years since the group’s breakthrough single, 1997’s “All for You,” Sister Hazel has also continued to be active in the studio. Fans can expect to hear plenty of songs off their latest disc in upcoming concerts. On Absolutely, the group made a conscious effort to go back to their roots, both physically and musically.
Writing and pre-recording most of the songs in the group’s hometown of Gainesville, the band “tried not to put too many rules on things.” Said Beres: “we embraced our sound and went with our gut instinct. It was a very organic process.” Part of this process included using three producers: Scott Parker, Don McCollister, who has worked with Sister Hazel on previous albums, and songwriter Richard Marx. This did not, however, complicate matters. Beres asserted that the group knew what sound they wanted to achieve; the producers served “as tiebreakers.”
While Absolutely is not a huge departure from Sister Hazel’s other albums, it is a solid example of their well-known roots rock sound. Tracks like “Mandolin Moon” and “Hey Hey” are upbeat, combining catchy melodies with a Southern rock twang. Sister Hazel sounds comfortable on this disc, one of the privileges of being a seasoned band. Likewise, fans should enjoy the happy familiarity of their show on the 14th.