With tomorrow’s release of her newest album, “Weighted Mind”, mandolinist, singer and former youth prodigy Sierra Hull will make her rounds throughout the Southeast on her upcoming tour, hitting venues in Charlottesville, Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte.
Hull was originally discovered as a child wonder mandolinist, notoriously called to stage at the Grand Ole Opry when she was 11 years-old by the prized Alison Krauss. At 13 Hull signed with Rounder Records, and out of high school she attended Berklee College of Music as the first bluegrass musician to receive the Presidential Scholarship.
After graduating with two albums under her belt, Hull felt pressure from within to shed the skin of the successful pupil she’d been, and to unveil her own form of expression. How she would do that, she did not know until completing “Weighted Mind”.
Now at age 24, Hull is breaking new ground in her quarter life with this album full of individuality that, with 11 of the 12 tracks being self-written, illuminates her new found talent as a composer, without much need for anything but her lyrics and mandolin. Produced by Bela Fleck and featuring support from Krauss, Rhiannon Giddens, and Abigail Washburn, along with bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, “Weighted Mind” packs an impressive bill for Hull’s much anticipated post-Berklee composition.
The result is one of the most original albums out there. “Weighted Mind” is full of tracks that are lyrically complex and ambiguous, yet simultaneously natural and relatable. As for musically, it’s captivatingly unique. “A lot of people are saying, ‘well, it’s definitely not a bluegrass record,’” Hull said. “It’s kind of funny, there’s a part of me that feels still so tied to bluegrass. I don’t think I’ve left bluegrass, but there is a much different sound to what I’m doing now…I think of it as original music that’s very much built around mandolin and voice.”
Soul-searching verses like those in “Compass” and “Wings of the Dawn” seem to let the listener into her world and aboard the voyage toward becoming her truest self through music. “It’s a vehicle of expression for her,” said songwriter Kevin McClung of the album. McClung has written several songs picked up by Hull, including “Secrets” from the album of the same name.
Hull’s own reflection of her journey is even depicted on the album cover design, which portrays Hull persistently pulling a wagon that bears the heavy load of her weighted mind. For Hull, the process of overcoming her ‘weighted mind’ derived from the C.S. Lewis quote: “The longest way round is the shortest way home.” In other words, it may have taken her a few obstacles and a lot of inner digging, but she has finally made it to where she wants to be.
Catch Sierra Hull this Tuesday at The Southern Cafe and Music Hall in Charlottesville, and next Saturday in Asheville at Altamont Theatre. See her website for the rest of her tour.