Sierra Hull burst on the bluegrass scene eight years ago as an 11-year-old mandolin player, invited by Alison Krauss to play on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
By the time she was 16, her first critically acclaimed album, “Secrets,” had been released.
Hull was suddenly the new teen queen of bluegrass. And the buzz about her was almost as loud as it had been for Krauss two decades before.
Comparisons to Krauss were inevitable. They both have soft voices that critics called “tender” and “eloquent.”
And they were both outstanding instrumentalists when they were still children — Krauss on fiddle, Hull on mandolin.
But that was three years ago.
And Hull isn’t a kid anymore.
Today, she’s a student at Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music — the first bluegrass musician to ever be awarded the school’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship.
She’s becoming a well-rounded musician and it’s reflected on “Daybreak,” her sophomore album.
Hull wrote seven of the 12 songs, including the title cut — essentially a pop ballad.
Songs range from straight bluegrass to western swing to country.
On “All Because Of You,” Hull sings that it doesn’t matter what he does or says because he’ll just hurt her anyway.
On “Best Buy,” she sings that she won’t buy the words he says because she’s heard them all before.
On “What Do You Say?” she questions whether he’s staying or leaving.
“Tell Me Tomorrow” finds her wondering if they’re going to break up, but hoping he’ll wait another day to tell her.
Hull also wrote a couple of instrumentals — “Chasin’ Skies” and “Bombshell” — for the album.
The prettiest song on the album, though, is Mary Ann Ballard’s gospel ballad, “The Land of Living.”
Hull has assembled an all-star studio band for the album — Bryan Sutton, Stuart Duncan, Randy Kohrs, Barry Bales, Shawn Lane, Ronnie Bowman, Dan Tyminski and Ron Block among others.
A strong album by a strong musician.
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