Rounder [Release date 27.03.20]
Sierra Hull has built her reputation as a world class mandolin player, becoming the first woman to be voted Mandolin Player of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards in 2016, after a near-decade of consecutive nominations, and claiming that prize again at the 2017 and 2018 IBMAs. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, played Carnegie Hall at aged just 12, then landed a deal with Rounder Records just a year later. This is her fourth album on the label.
25 Trips features guitarist Mike Seal, bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, violinist Alex Hargreaves, fiddler Christian Sedelmyer, bassist Viktor Krauss, guitarist Bryan Sutton, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan, steel guitarist Paul Franklin, and guest appearances including Molly Tuttle, Katie Pruitt, Angel Snow, and Hull’s husband, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses.
On this album Sierra Hull wanted to move into new musical areas, so there is electric guitars and percussion included for the first time. I would imagine her existing fan base will revel in the bluegrass workout on ‘How Long’, a proper foot stamper and no mistake.
There is much to enjoy, be it the instrumental ‘The Last Minute’ where guitar, fiddle and mandolin weave effortlessly together, to create an uplifting piece of music. Then there is ‘Poison’, a song that has crossover potential and the gospel used on ‘Father Time’. A song based on her husband’s grandma’s struggles with Alzheimer’s and how music helps all concerned. Her heartfelt vocal is a definite highlight.
Listening to this album it is easy to see why Sierra Hull has won so many awards, an exhilarating listen that is grounded in her bluegrass roots, yet often goes off into interesting musical avenues. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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