Even in the earliest years of Sister Hazel’s career, they were more roots rock than alternative rock. So, when Sister Hazel’s music got decidedly more “country,” it’s not as if much about the band had changed. Instead, it’s that the genres around them changed and the music they’ve always made is now Country or Americana, not unlike their friend Darius Rucker. That’s what made Sister Hazel's albums over the years so interesting, if not under-appreciated, as the albums consistently had some of the best-written songs in any genre. Add in strong vocals, a tight band and harmonies and you have a band which has been around for over 20 years is still shining with, amazingly, the same band members.
This year, they’ve released the Water EP, the first in a series of element-based EPs which shows the scope of the quintet’s creativity and vibrancy. Opener “Roll On By” feels like a long lost CSN&Y or Jackson Browne song with the laidback lyrics and harmonies that just sooth the soul. “You Won’t See Me Again” is a great story song about facing your demons head on, even when it looks like you’re in your darkest spot, there’s time for faith and hope to get you out of it. Speaking of 70s, "Shelter" has an interesting horn section adding a little Bob Seger-like blend of rock and motown R&B.
“I Stayed For The Girl,” the lone song not written by the band’s members (it was written by Josh Jenkins of Green River Ordinance along with Josh Dorr and Matthew Rogers), reminds me of a long lost Springsteen song while “More Than I Want To” is a sweet love song with a groove fit for a romantic comedy film montage scene. “First Time” is all about second guessing a break up and with that you can see the entire breadth of variety on the Water EP (which closes with “Elements Part 1”). Over 20 years into their career and Sister Hazel still delights and surprises with new original music. Music which leaves me excited for their next EP in the series.