Rounder Records has announced a January 29, 2016 release for Weighted Mind, their third album for mandolin maven Sierra Hull.
This one will be something of a departure for the young virtuoso, whose two previous releases featured her as singer/songwriter within a bluegrass ensemble. If you’ve seen her live show this year, you will have an idea of the new direction she is heading, with a smaller ensemble and more of an Americana vibe.
Weighted Mind has been in the works for some time, partly owing to Hull’s busy touring schedule, and also because of the many demands on the time of Béla Fleck, whom Sierra had chosen to produce her in this new environment. While a number of guest artists appear, the primary format is Sierra on mandolin or octave mandolin, with the equally gifted young Ethan Jodziewicz on bass.
In truth, this sound is far more conducive to Sierra’s voice, which could sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed in a full band setting. Here, it’s one of a few instruments in the mix and her new songs suit her voice quite well. Most impressive of all is her manner of using the mandolin family instruments as the primary accompaniment for her voice.
Alison Krauss joins her on harmony vocals, as do Rhiannon Giddens and Abigail Washburn. Béla’s banjo also makes an appearance on one track.
This extremely talented young woman has some surprises in store for her many fans when Weighted Mind hits early next year. And I don’t just mean the quirky Pythonesque cover art.