Country Chatter: CD Review: Sister Hazel, Unplugged From Daryl’s House Club

Sister Hazel

Today I received “Unplugged From Daryl’s House Club” in the mail.  It is the new Sister Hazel album.  Whenever I get ready to review a CD, I get a big ole glass of iced tea, prop my feet up, stick the CD into the player and think to myself, “this will be easy – I listen, and I write”.  With Sister Hazel, I knew from the first note that while this was going to be a great-listening CD, writing a review wasn’t going to be easy.

I grew up before Merle Haggard, George Jones and Johnny cash were even famous.  My real love will always be what I called country music, and what we now call “classic country’ or “traditional country” music.  So, Sister Hazel, I discovered, was a little bit out of my comfort zone.

The band is made up of five obviously very talented musicians/vocalists who sing pop, rock, southern rock, folk, a touch of country, alternative rock, and probably a little bit of every genre’ I’ve ever listened to in my more than 65 years on this planet. Therein sat my dilemma.  For a traditional country music fan, like me – this music is definitely as far from ‘what I usually listen to’ as you can get.  But, while it is not what I would ever expect to hear on country radio,  it is something I will be listening to again.

I listened to the entire CD, and then I put the DVD in and watched this live show from Daryl’s House Club.  It was a great performance, and one that I would have liked to been there for. The name of each song came up on the screen, I followed along on the track list, I did more than my share of smiling as I watched, and I knew why this band has such a large following.  This was really entertaining.  Yes, I was a bit surprised by that.  (Maybe I need to do more of that ‘broaden your interests’ thing, like my children keep suggesting).

The group formed in 1993 in Gainesville, Fla. Its name, I’m told, comes from a local ministry that ran a shelter for the homeless. Band members are Ken Block, lead vocals, acoustic guitar; Jeff Beres, bass, harmony vocals; Andrew Copeland, rhythm guitar, vocals; Ryan Newell, lead and slide guitar, harmony vocals; and Mark Trojanowski, drums. I was glad they included that DVD with this new CD, and I had an opportunity to see them all work, as well as hear them play.They work well together, and they work well with their audience.

Each song is so different, I felt like I was listening to a different band every time a new song that started playing.  “Your Winter” reminded me of something Donovan might have done, that folk sound from the 60s.  “That Kind of Beautiful” was one of the ‘catchy melodies’ that screamed, “sing along to this one”! I liked the story that one was telling.  That is how I listen to country music, I look for a story, and I wait to hear the rest of it.This album might be as far away from country as you can get, but I found myself doing that with several of these songs.  Lyrics like, “She’s like the feeling you get on a Sunday, Forgiveness when you need it the most, Like that little girl singing every single word, With a big smile on her face in the front row.”

I picked a favorite song on this CD.  I usually always find one I like more than the others. On this album it was “This Kind of Love”.  They dropped that one into the 13th spot on this 14-track CD.  This is the only song on the album that I would drop into the ‘ballad’ category.  And it’s a good ballad!  No, it’s a great ballad.  The opening lyric says “And, this kind of love makes me feel ten feet tall…”  Then it goes on…  “This kind of hope is what I try to find, and now I can’t deny I believe. And this kind of faith is so unshakable, it’s unmistakable. It’s bigger than me.”  Great lyrics, great melody, great song.  That’s all I have to say about this one.

SisterHazel.UnpluggedfromDaryl’sHouseClub.Cover_Track List:
1) Prettiest Girl At The Dance
2) Change Your Mind
3) Something To Believe In
4) Champagne High
5) Mandolin Moon
6) Where You’re Going
7) Your Winter
8) That Kind Of Beautiful
9) Shame
10) All For You
11) Happy
12) Take It With Me
13) This Kind Of Love
14) Swan Dive

I will probably always be first and foremost, a traditional country music fan. But, to all of our Country’s Chatter readers who seem to be stuck on one kind of music, I think you need to listen to Sister Hazel.  You will discover very quickly that the world is made up of more than one kind of music…. and, I think a lot of you are really going to like this.

Sister_Hazel_3_-_CopyIn addition to their website, visit Sister Hazel’s Facebook page, and remember to “Like” it while you are there.  You will find several other social media links on their website, so make sure you check those out as well.  And, you can follow them on Twitter @SisterHazelBand.  If you aren’t already following Country’s Chatter on Twitter, we’d love to have you.  You will find us @countryschatter.