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Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

Sister Hazel

Release (Rock Ridge Music)

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On Release, Sister Hazel’s ninth CD this decade, the Florida-based jangle rockers decided to make the songwriting process more democratic. Rather than have lead vocalist/acoustic guitarist Ken Block do most of the heavy lifting, each of the five members penned at least two tunes. The result is an album with broad appeal, loaded with assorted Indian-summer anthems and lost-love laments.

Songs such as drummer Mark Trojanowski’s orchestral-leaning “Better Way,” bassist Jett Beres’ prime-time rocker “Ghost in the Crowd,” electric guitarist Drew Copeland’s country ballad “One Life” and guitarist Ryan Newell’s snappy single “Take a Bow” prove that Sister Hazel’s shared approach works without sacrificing the sound that ardent Hazelnuts have come to love over the past 16 years. As a matter of fact, Block’s two songs (“Walls and Cannonballs” and “See Me Beautiful”) are the weakest ones here.