Sierra Hull (Thu/Fri)
In her first 25 years alone, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull hit more milestones than many musicians accomplish in a lifetime. After making her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, the Tennessee-bred virtuoso mandolinist played Carnegie Hall at age 12, then landed a deal with Rounder Records just a year later. Now 28-years-old, Hull delivered her fourth full-length recording for Rounder Records this February: an elegantly inventive and endlessly captivating album called “25 Trips.”
Returning to the Grey Fox stage, Hull sheds light on the beauty and chaos and sometimes sorrow of growing up and getting older on “25 Trips.” The album’s title nods to a particularly momentous year of her life, including her marriage to fellow bluegrass musician Justin Moses and the release of her widely acclaimed album “Weighted Mind” — a Béla Fleck- produced effort nominated for Best Folk Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
“There’s a lot of push-and-pull on this record, where in some moments I feel like everything’s happening so fast and I wish I could slow it all down so I can really enjoy it,” Hull points out. “But then there are also times where I’m looking forward to the day when the craziness has died down a bit, and life’s a little calmer.”
Even as its songs continually shift in genre, encompassing everything from bluegrass to folk-pop to ethereal alt-rock, “25 Trips” remains rooted in the sophisticated musicianship that Hull has cultivated almost her entire life. Hailing from the tiny Tennessee hamlet of Byrdstown, she learned to sing from her mother as toddler, took up mandolin just a few years later, and began joining in local bluegrass jams by the young age of eight. With her childhood triumphs including joining her hero and mentor Alison Krauss onstage at the Grand Ole Opry at age 11, she made her Rounder debut with the 2008 album Secrets and promptly garnered the first of many nominations for Mandolin Player of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. In 2016, after a near- decade of consecutive nominations, Hull became the first-ever woman to win the award—then claimed that prize again at the 2017 and 2018 IBMAs. Over the years, Hull has also maintained a rigorous touring schedule, and has made occasional guest appearances with such icons as the Indigo Girls, Garth Brooks, and Gillian Welch.
Marking a bold new era in Hull’s artistic evolution, “25 Trips” wholly channels the pure and palpable joy she discovered in the album’s creation—and ultimately illuminates certain truths about the indelible connection between risk-taking and reward. “One of the things I most enjoyed about making this record was getting to show the wide variety of music I love,” says Hull. “I don’t really know what category the album falls in, but I also think that matters less and less. What really matters to me is trusting myself to be who I am, and just putting my voice and my heart out there in the most sincere way that I possibly can.”