Rounder Records

Sierra Hull enters a brave new world with her first recording project in five years. She was frustrated with the variety of opinions pulling her in different directions, and her inner voice was longing for a different sound. Accepting the advice of her banjo wizard producer Bela Fleck, Hull decided to try recording her songs with nothing but her mandolin and voice. “Even when I was fronting a band, I’d always been an ensemble player,” Hull says. “To do something by myself made me rethink everything.”

As she discovered a new voice, the former child prodigy decided to add back in other musical flavors. Bass whiz Ethan Jodziewicz provides resonance and rhythmic complexity. Fleck’s banjo crowns the “Queen Of Hearts”/“Royal Tea,” while Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens add enchanting harmonies on “Black River.” Hull co-wrote 11 of the 12 tracks and penned “Stranded,” “Wings Of The Dawn,” “Birthday,” “Lullaby,” “I’ll Be Fine,” and “Black River” by herself. “This album feels like the story of my early twenties, of that searching,” she says. “Now, it feels like everything worked out the way it was supposed to.”

This latest recording gives listeners a more in-depth look at Hull’s songwriting maturity, as well as showcasing her incredible angelic pipes. As always, her seemingly effortless skills on mandolin reach a higher degree of refined elegance. After much soul-searching, Hull rediscovered herself musically on this CD, and fans will surely like what she found. (Rounder Records, 1209 Pine St., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203,

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