Sister Hazel cracks open a new genre
As the boundaries of alternative rock have shifted toward electronic sounds, the boundaries of country music have expanded to include the kind of music that alt-rock radio has left behind. Artists like Sheryl Crow, Darius Rucker (of Hootie and the Blowfish) and Jewel have taken advantage of this shift to expand their audiences and their sound, and onetime alt-rock chart-toppers Sister Hazel are the latest to make the change. The Florida band scored a No. 1 single on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart with 1997’s “All for You,” and built that into a devoted following of fans dubbed Hazelnuts. Despite that dedicated fan base, Sister Hazel never managed to match the mainstream success of “All for You,” even while steadily touring and releasing new music. With 2016’s Lighter in the Dark, the band worked with established Nashville songwriters and got a boost from Rucker, who’s become a major country star and offered guest vocals on the single “Karaoke Song.” The album made it to No. 4 on the Billboard country charts, proving that Sister Hazel’s laid-back Americana makes a perfect fit with modern country music. A whole new audience can now hear what the Hazelnuts have been passionate about for decades.
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