Sierra Hull has been recognized from age 11 as a virtuoso mandolin-player, astonishing audiences and fellow-musicians alike. Now a seasoned touring musician nearing her mid-20s, Hull has delivered her most inspired, accomplished, and mature recorded work to date; no small feat. Catch her at The Southgate House Revival tomorrow night!
Her most recent release, Weighted Mind is a landmark achievement, not just in Sierra Hull's career, but in the world of folk-pop, bluegrass, and acoustic music overall. With instrumentation comprised largely of mandolin, bass, and vocals, this is genre-transcending music at its best, with production by Béla Fleck and special harmony vocal guests Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens adding to the luster. Hull speaks eloquently, in her challenging and sensitive originals, her heartfelt vocals, and once again breaks new ground on the mandolin. Béla Fleck special guests on banjo on two tracks and duo partner, Ethan Jodziewicz, not only anchors the record on bass, but introduces us to a major new instrumental voice.
Tell us about the new album, Weighted Mind.
Weighted Mind is an album that allowed me to show a different side of myself. Musically, it’s very stripped down and exposed. All of the songs but one are original and reflect a more vulnerable side of my writing than my prior two albums had.
How was it to work with BélaFleck on the album?
Working with Béla was such a highlight of my musical life thus far. He’s so brilliant and has been a hero of mine since I was a kid. It was pretty special!
To have vocal guests Alison Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens is very impressive! How did that come about?
Well… I’m such fans of each of these ladies! Alison has been one of my biggest influences and a longtime friend and mentor. Abigail was an obvious choice because not only do I love her singing, she’s married to Béla and was there for so much of our recording process. It was a nice surprise to be able to invite Rhiannon to be on the record. She happened to be visiting Béla and Abby one day while we were working on the project, so we asked her to be a part!
Tell us about your songwriting process.
Some people have a very specific writing process, but I wouldn’t say that I do. There are people who tend to start with either lyrics or melody first, but I am drawn to both ways of writing. Lately I have found myself creating lyrics first - more like poetry and then finding a lyrical rhythm within it. The part of me that really identifies as an instrumentalist loves to try and create new melodies, but I’m also really focused right now on what it is that I want to say and what feels honest.
What can one expect at a live show?
I have Ethan Jodziewicz (bass) and Christian Sedelmyer (fiddle) out with me for this tour. They are both very expressive musicians that are easy to connect with in a live performance. We’ll be playing a lot of music from Weighted Mind along with some covers and new originals.
What is next for Sierra Hull?
I’m writing like crazy right now and planning my next album. I’m also still touring a lot this year, but also trying to be intentional about giving myself some much-needed creative time.