I first witnessed Sierra Hull’s talent at the IBMA’s World Of Bluegrass in Louisville, Ky., back when she was all of 11 years old. While she was truly a child prodigy and that will always be a part of her story, she is grown up now, folks.
Hull will be 20 years old in September, and her new album Daybreak showcases an artist who is successfully coming of age.
Produced by Hull and Barry Bales, Daybreak finds Sierra following the trail of her friend and mentor, Alison Krauss. That is not to imply a copy and paste of Krauss’s sound, but instead suggests an incredible instrumentalist who is also a lead vocalist. If there was one criticism I had of Hull in past years, it was that her obviously sweet voice needed to be a little stronger. And now, it is. With the opening notes of the first cut “Easy Come, Easy Go,” you will hear her in fine vocal form. The song falls into the acoustic country category, a bluegrass-real country hybrid with a new acoustic flare to it. Then, Hull’s brother Cory kicks off a banjo lick to start the second song, “Don’t Pick Me Up,” which is bluegrass from the floor up. And, there is a surprise or two to boot, including the western swing fun of “Best Buy.”
One thing that I always look forward to with a Sierra Hull project is the unveiling of new and powerful Hull-penned instrumentals. Here she provides two, “Chasin’ Skies” and the über-smoking “Bombshell.” Both cuts feature Bryan Sutton on guitar and Stuart Duncan on fiddle. The rest of the guests on Daybreak include Shawn Lane, Ronnie Bowman, Christian Ward, Clay Hess, Jacob Eller, Ron Block, Ron Stewart, Randy Kohrs, and Dan Tyminski. (Rounder Records, One Rounder Way, Burlington, MA 01803, www.rounder.com.) DH