On their new Arista album Wrestling Over Tiny Matters, the Austin, Texas quartet Sister Seven delivers 13 expertly crafted songs whose abundant hooks and infectious choruses belie the quartet's origins as a freeform jamming combo.
As guitarist Wayne Sutton told The Austin Chronicle, "We used to find grooves and put songs around them. Now, lyrics and melody come first."
Fronted by tattooed singer/guitarist Patrice Pike, whom Rolling Stone described as "Tina Turner, Bessie Smith, Janis Joplin and Robert Plant rolled into a tiny but explosive package," the eclectic, hardworking rock/soul quartet first began life in 1991 as Little Sister, an acoustic duo consisting of Pike and Sutton. After expanding to a foursome with the addition of bassist Darrell Phillips and drummer Sean Phillips, the group became a fixture on the Austin club scene, where its three-hour live sets attracted a devoted following. A pair of self-released albums and relentless national touring helped to win them a national audience.
Sister Seven's 1996 Arista debut, This The Trip, included the hit "Know What You Mean" and led to spots on the H.O.R.D.E. and Lilith Fair tours, as well as a stint on the road as John Fogerty's opening act.
Sister Seven's current emphasis on sleek, compact songcraft yields impressive results on Wrestling Over Tiny Matters, which the band co-produced with Melissa Etheridge guitarist John Shanks. Standout numbers like "Under the Radar," "Leave This Love Behind" and "My Three Wishes" deftly balance pop hooks and rock aggression, while "The Only Thing That's Real" tackles weighty spiritual matters with a refreshing lack of self-consciousness.