We last heard from Sierra Hull when she was 19 years old. The mandolin virtuoso’s transitions between bluegrass and newgrass were authoritative beyond her years. Five years on, her third album, Weighted Mind, showcases her abilities as a singer/songwriter whose depth and inspiration are enhanced by that technical facility. This is not a picker’s album per se — though there is plenty of great playing on it. Hull wrote or co-wrote ten of these eleven tunes. The set was co-produced with Bela Fleck. Partially with his encouragement, Weighted Mind is deliberately sparse. On most tracks, Hull’s mandolin and voice are accompanied only by upright bassist Ethan Jodziewicz. His playing — pizzicato and arco — offers glorious contrast musically and texturally. This no-net approach finds Hull walking the wire of melodies and lyrics that reflect the album’s title. Loss, confusion, regret, sorrow, longing, and determination are all addressed.
Those who know Hull’s work as a superpicker would do well to investigate this dimension of her persona as well. For the rest of us, Weighted Mind is a poignant, bracing work by an adept singer and songwriter. She openly invites us into her world with real vulnerability and honesty, and reveals her inner strength in doing so.
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