by Sister Hazel



The five members of Sister Hazel -- Jett Beres, Ken Block, Andrew Copeland, Ryan Newell, and Mark Trojanowski -- who founded the group in Gainesville, FL, in 1993, appear in a line on the cover of Release, their seventh studio album of new, non-holiday material, no one person ahead of or behind another. It's a statement of equality that is pursued in the album's contents. When a band is founded, the young musicians often don't realize that whoever is credited with writing the songs is going to make more money than the others. That starts to become apparent later on, however, and it can lead to strange consequences. After years of recording hits written by singer/guitarist John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revival abruptly released Mardi Gras, an album on which the bass player and drummer got equal songwriting credits. It was a bust, and the band broke up. Former members of the Band Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm became estranged because Helm believes Robertson's sole songwriting credit on most of their music is unfair. Other groups deal with the issue head on: all U2 songs are credited equally to the band's four members. In the case of Sister Hazel, early songs tended to be credited to Block/Sister Hazel, suggesting that the singer wrote the lyrics and the band came up with the music, which may have resulted in his getting 50-percent of the music publishing and the others splitting the other 50-percent. (After the first couple of albums, the group credit was abandoned, and Block wrote most of the songs, sometimes with Beres, Copeland, and/or Newell joining in.) This time, the band has employed a new strategy. A decade-and-a-half into their career together, the members of Sister Hazel opted for songwriting democracy on Release, assigning each member at least two songs (Newell and Copeland each get three). While that might seem like a formula for disaster à la Creedence, it works out just fine. For one thing, Block never dominated the band the way Fogerty did Creedence; Sister Hazel's music has always sounded like a group effort, and it still does here. For another, some of the bandmembers have brought in help, with Newell turning to another journeyman rocker, Pat McGee, among others, and Copeland bringing on former Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' drummer and Don Henley songwriting partner Stan Lynch. But even when they go it alone, as Beres does on "Vacation Rain" and "Ghost in the Crowd," they come up with acceptable material. Each member seems to have brought in his most accessible, catchy efforts, resulting in an album that, if anything, is even more tuneful than other Sister Hazel albums. As usual, there isn't much in the way of lyrical substance (love goes right, love goes wrong, clichés abound), but the choruses (not to mention bridges and "pre-choruses") come frequently in craftsmanlike songs that are played by a group that has been playing together for more than a decade-and-a-half. Maybe the best thing that can be said about the songwriting experiment is that the listener doesn't really notice the difference. No new ground is broken on Release, but Sister Hazel hasn't lost ground with its democratic approach, either.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/18/2009
Label: Rock Ridge Music
UPC: 0677516123822
catalogNumber: 61238

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sister Hazel   Primary Artist
Patrick Buchanon   Guitar
Stan Lynch   Percussion
Debbie Brooks   Cello
Jett Beres   Bass,Group Member
Ken Block   Acoustic Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Andrew Copeland   Electric Guitar,Background Vocals,Group Member
Mark Trojanowski   Drums,Group Member
Swang Lin   Violin
Tom Hurst   Percussion
Ryan Newell   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Dobro,Mandolin,Electric Guitar,Group Member
Darwin Martin   Organ,Piano
Adriana DeCosta   Violin
John Deaderick   Organ,Piano
Bill Airey Smith   Strings,Conductor
Susan DuBois   Viola
Kurt Sprenger   Violin
Kristi Swanson   Viola
Keira Fullerton   Cello
Ali Flanagan   Violin
Adrian Decosta   Violin
Bill Smith   Strings,Conductor

Technical Credits

Stan Lynch   Composer,Lyricist,Producer
Mike Daly   Composer,Lyricist
Sister Hazel   Producer
Cynthia Cochrane   Art Direction
Pat McGee   Composer,Lyricist
Jett Beres   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Art Direction
Ken Block   Composer,Lyricist,Producer
Andrew Copeland   Composer,Lyricist,Producer
Mark Trojanowski   Composer,Lyricist,Producer
Britton Cameron   Composer,Lyricist,Engineer
Emerson Hart   Composer,Lyricist
Ryan Newell   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Engineer
Vince Reynolds   Engineer
Ken Kelly   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Engineer
Bill Airey Smith   Orchestration
Chip Matthews   Engineer,Executive Producer
Brian Gill   Engineer
Erik Herbst   Engineer
Chuck Carrier   Composer,Lyricist
Lindsey Kelly   Composer,Lyricist
Ken Kelly   Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Engineer

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Release 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's All For New: Hazel's Latest Release Breaks The Norm, Molds A Form... By Denton Ramsey Fifteen years and seven studio albums into their career, Sister Hazel is soaring to new heights -- and from their self-titled white album days to their latest Release, these guys don't miss a beat. Ken Block, Drew Copeland, Ryan Newell, Jett Beres, and Mark Trojanowski are the masterminds behind the magic -- running through new musical scores like an All-Duke Basketball Team led by Coach K. The five Hazel members are more than just band buddies -- they take music and their passion for writing and composing music to a brand new level with Release, breaking the norm by a long-shot in their approach to their newest album, due to hit stores on Aug. 18. With Release, Sister Hazel has jumped into a category that may very well stand alone. This musical masterpiece, the bands seventh disc of original material, was a true team effort in its creation. All five band members came to the table with numerous songs, and each member was given two tracks for the album, with Copeland and Newell garnering three apiece. "We felt it was time for a different type of record, and we figured the best way to make a different kind of record is to change the record making process," Newell said. The band also used a similar approach when recording their 2007 Christmas album, Santa's Playlist. In addition to contributing a song, the songwriter would then guide his design through the recording process. "The concept worked so well for us," Trojanowski said. "We thought we'd use it on our studio album." Compiling their songs and meeting at the band's favorite Gainesville rehearsal place, these five amazing musicians played through the material before traveling to Nashville to demo the tunes prior to Newell working on the tracks at his home studio, with band members dropping in from time to time. In my opinion, the concept worked to perfection -- and I hope to see a similar approach in future records from the band. It's just amazing how much talent each and every Hazel member brings to the table. They're my modern-day Pink Floyd. I love these guys. It's absolutely amazing how much these guys have grown since first forming in the early 90's in Gainesville. And from the Rock Boat to Lyrics for Life, these guys give it their all -- and that's why I love them. So what's next from this group we've all come to know as Sister Hazel? "Right now, we're on a tear," Block said. "And we hope to keep things really rolling." Roll on, Sister Hazel. Rock and Roll on. [For full text of the new Sister Hazel CD review, visit] ***** For more information on the band, including how to purchase their albums and to check their tour schedule, visit their website at Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at
musicandbooks88 More than 1 year ago
My husband turned me on to Sister Hazel when we started dating almost nine years ago. He has been a fan since the beginning. Now I am hooked. This latest album continues Sister Hazel's unique sound. Their complex melodies, smooth harmonies and lyrical gems blend to produce a perfect mix of soul and rock. A tight band who can bring intimate stories to life, Sister Hazel once again has created an album full of relatiable topics from heartbreak to intense love. Check this one out then check out their previous albums. You are going to love them all. Then see them live. We just saw them Wednesday night at an intimate theatre with less than 100 seats but they thrived in this unique setting. Ken Block compared the room to VH1 Storytellers. They took questions and requests from the audience without hesistation. So listen to this fantastic album and fall in love with this band called Sister Hazel, and then check them out live and you will love them even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago