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Sierra Hull and Secrets is very enjoyable I became aware of this music CD via an email from Rounder Records. Being a fan of Union Station, Ron Block, Alison Krauss, etc. I decided to explore who Sierra Hull was/is and what her first music CD entailed. I liked what I heard. I ordered the CD, and have enjoyed it very much. I look forward to future music projects from Sierra. She is a very talented musician, and is fortunate to have some other very talented musicians supporting her....more info
The debut of a potent bluegrass prodigy 16-year old mandolinist-vocalist Sierra Hull is sure to be remembered as one of the more exciting bluegrass prodigies to emerge in the closing years of this decade. With comments of praise from Alison Krauss and production assist by Union Station's Ron Block, Hull's future seems assured: several of these songs slide into the sweet, honeyed pop-grass balladry that made Krauss a superstar, and with her own strong, confident voice, Hull may well follow. (Just think, if Krauss could find room for a second female voice in her band, what a potent combo that would be!) Fans of modern crossover-bluegrass will want to check this album... it's pretty sweet! (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue country music reviews)...more info
Bluegrass fan who loves this album As one who loves bluegrass, I highly recommend this recording. It is the best I have enjoyed in a long while. Sierra Hull has a unique and remarkable voice and the musicians playing on this recording are many of the best in the world. I love every track....more info
Excellent bluegrass Nice variety of quiet contemplation to blazing speed work. She really cooks on the mandolin, and has an excellent backup band (Union Station and others).
Just a personal taste issue, but her voice IS that of a young girl (which she IS). So it's not the kind of thing I would listen to over and over (like Alison Krauss). Looking forward to her career as she matures.
Unfair to say Alison-lite Thanks to Amazon I listened to snippets of this album and recognized a voice very much akin to Alison Krauss and also a tremendous mandolin player. Then I dug deeper and found out many members of Union Station were guests on and produced the album. And then, I discovered that talent was still in her teens and I was blown away! Every song is a keeper and to think this young lady will only get better as time goes by is just down right scary!!! This CD has none of that first-timer feel to it at all. Be part of a legend in the making and buy this magnificent work.Secrets...more info
An Earthquake in the Bluegrass Universe Having been a devoted Bluegrass musician for close to 20 years, I can truly say that we finally have something new here that will be talked about for decades to come. There are so many young musicians who have emerged in the last decade, and many are producing outstanding music. However, Sierra is miles, no, years, ahead of them. It cannot be denied that she exhibits a STRONG influence from Alison Krauss, but this is something vastly different, something that we have not heard before. Sierra is a new, fantastic talent. There are no words that can accurately describe the spectacular work done on this album. It is a work that embraces tradition and innovation, and if your taste is for the best in Bluegrass, BUY THIS ALBUM....more info
Awesome! She is one of the best of the new generation bluegrass artists. Her style of playing and the pure, on pitch voice is a joy to hear. I really liked the last track for its simple, clear style. She will only get better as she matures. A must have, especially if you like good mandolin playing!...more info
Secrets Love this CD.
She is a very clean player.
Great back up people.
Can't wait to hear from her again....more info
Lovely voice, nice bluegrass instrumentals similar to AKUS I bought this CD based on a few YouTube videos. Sierra has a gentle, melodious voice, reminding me a bit of Alison Krauss. In fact, Sierra brings a touch of vibrato that I might actually prefer.
The music is also reminiscent of Alison Krauss and Union Station, but that isn't too surprising since Ron Block is co-producer. The instrumentals were nice, but I found the songs a bit bland and forgettable. Still, not bad for a young and upcoming musician.
Sierra's mandolin work reminds me of another child prodigy in the bluegrass world, Chris Thile. While Sierra doesn't throw out the jaw dropping runs that Chris does, she too is fast and has a similar sensitivity to melody and the beautiful voice that the mandolin is capable of.
The CD didn't earn steady rotation in my collection, but I'm glad to have it anyway. ...more info
Wow There is not one song on this album that I dislike. This is the first album in a long long time where I have enjoyed every single song. This girl is very talented. Not only can she play the varnish off a mando but has the voice of an angel....more info
A sound from 20 years back Go back 20 years and you'll hear a very similar album from a 16-year-old Alison Krauss, not surprising since Krauss in one of Sierra's mentors _ the first thank you is to "Alison.'' Hull has the benefit of starting with the best musicians in bluegrass, including all of Krauss' Union Station plus Tony Rice, Stuart Duncan, Rob Ickes and Jim Van Cleve. Sam Bush, who isn't on the album because his mandolin would be redundant, has an elegant tribute.
One funny note: Ron Block, the producer, kept it from being "Sierra Hull and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas'' by making sure that he, Douglas, Dan Tyminski and Barry Bales were never all together on any cut. He also makes a comparison to another young mandolin virtuoso: Chris Thile, although he doesn't mention Thile by name.
What you get here is a remarkable 16-year-old, just as you got with Krauss. One review suggested her voice isn't as good. Whose is? And yet it really does sound like the teenage Alison. Krauss hasn't been pure bluegrass for a while now, so Hull gives purists a new voice to hang with while Alison goes into her current mix of folk, rock, Americana or whatever. I find her newsest stuff great. I find this the start of something that could be similar.
One added note for those who are dismayed Alison has stayed from "pure'' bluegrass. Two of the musicians on this album _ Duncan and Dennis Crouch _ are part of the band touring with Krauss and Plant. Another reason to let music be music without labels.
Watch out Alison!!! If you are like me and mourning that Alison Krauss has hooked up with Robert Plant this year (I know it is a multi platinum album/cd) Sierra Hull can help you survive through this period. Whereas, Alison plays the "fiddle" Sierra plays Bill Monroe's instrument of choice - Mandolin.
Yes she is only 16 years old and her voice will mature with age and experience but if Alison doesn't come back to Union Station, Sierra could fill that role very well. In fact on the various songs are members of Union Station contributing their talents. To paraphase Randy Jackson, Sierra you are the "BOMB" With Sierra being the next generation of "bluegrass" artists, Bill Monroe can rest easy that his baby - Bluegrass music is in very capable hands. Bluegrass music fans, this should be in your collection! ...more info
New to Bluegrass I never considered myself a fan of Bluegrass as a genre but it has slowly crept into my collection. Sierra's album has definitely won a place there. Her talents are revealed through this album. Every track is delightful -- hard to pick a favorite!
I would recommend this album to anyone who loves music. She will reach out with her mandolin and touch your soul. A lovely young woman with a lovely voice--can't wait to hear more! ...more info
Mighty fine bluegrass I like every cut on this album. The excellent instrumental work combined with Sierra Hull's strong, sweet voice make this a toe tappin' delight to listen to....more info
Hull: A "Secret" No More Prime Cuts: Trust and Obey, Everybody's Somebody's Fool, The Hard Way
Sierra Hull is destined to make bluegrass cool again. Merely only 16 years-old, "Secrets" hits the high water mark in terms of debut CDs with Hull's impeccably pure angelic sound that calls to mind a young Alison Krauss. In fact Krauss presence is felt right through the disc: namely because this debut effort is helmed by Union Station's Ron Block together with Hull. Hopefully with her clout with Rounder Records (also Krauss' recording home), this will stream in the success Hull deserves. An austere line of Who's Who in bluegrass forms the band backup including Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, Stuart Duncan, Ron Ickes AND Mountain Heart's Jim Van Cleve. Unfaultable also is Hull's mandolin licks; while teenagers her age are into the latest hip hop beeps and whistles Hull's constant love is playing her rustic string instruments. And when she plays conterminous with these bluegrass greats, she sounds like a peer.
Most importantly, it is still the songs that shine. While many bluegrass outputs veer on the technical virtuoso of exceptional playing made at the expense at the quality of the songs, this is not the case here. Opener and title cut "Secrets" is a prime example of an introspective glance into "the secret passions" of Hull's heart that s made even more bittersweet with the delicate mandolin lines. Hull has a hand in the composing "Pretend," a paean of unrequited love told with a diary-like frankness. And despite the incessant fiddle licks to mask the pain, Hull's expressive vocals could not hide the influx of feelings of pain. Hull also hammers home a heartfelt rendition of Rivers Rutherford and Gordie Sampson's "The Hard Way," giving Keith Urban (who first covered this song) a run for his money with her bluegrass treatment of this gorgeous uptempo number. Soaring with crystalline purity Hull soars with an affecting elan on the proverbial lilting "Everybody's Somebody's Fool."
Gospel fans get more than their fix with the traditional "Trust and Obey." This is more than just your obligatory hymn that often closes off a bluegrass/county disc. Backed only by Ron Black's guitar, Hull sings with so much conviction she indeed leads the parade as far as soul shattering performances go. Although not as affective, "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" with its heartwarming lyrics also create some high lonesome splendor. With the album's highlight being Hull's vocals, the two instrumentals ("Hullarious" and "Smashville") done at high sonic speed sounds indistinguishable from copious bluegrass instrumentals out there. Also, the CD could definitely profit from a couple more ballads.
Despite the minor criticisms, "Secrets" is an elegant effort done by a vocalist who sings beyond her years. Hull's uncommon ability to transmit the aches and warms of these songs is nothing short of stellar. With an album this good, Sierra Hull will be a "secret" no more.
An amazin new vocalist and instrumentalist destined for stardom I flipped on my XM Radio to Bluegrass Junction while on a road trip and caught an interview session with Sierra. They were playing her music and talking to her and I was blown away by her sound and amazed to hear her age. After buying the album and listening to it completely I am not even remotely disappointed. Her singing voice/style is absolutely beautiful and she can play the Mandolin as good as anyone I've heard twice her age.
If you want to be amazed at her work outside of this album just hit Youtube and search for her name. This will not be her last album by any stretch of the imagination!...more info
Tour de force from Sierra the mando princess Sierra Hull's album Secrets is the musical equivalent of slipping someone a mickey. You see the fresh-faced girl on the cover, clutching her mandolin for dear life, and think 'Oh yeah, I know what this is about.' She launches into the title track, singing as beautifully as you expected. But then she starts trading mandolin licks with Jerry Douglas, giving the performance of his life on the dobro. On the second cut, From Now On, she does it again, but this time with fiddle virtuoso Stuart Duncan and banjo honcho Cory Walker. At this point, your mouth opens, your jaw hits the floor, and you realize: oh no, oh my; I am in WAY over my head here.
Secrets is an album of voices, both human and musical. Sierra's capable voice is undeniably that of a 16-year-old. However, the credits reveal that other voices, including Dan Tyminski, Ron Block, and Clay Hess, are present. These are not harmony vocals; they are an octave down, and have been mixed so subtly as to add extra timbre to Sierra's voice where needed. Every vocal passage is immediately answered by an instrument, sometimes multiple instruments in counterpoint, weaving scintillating, kaleidoscopic patterns of sound. There are dozens of fiery instrumental solos, but they have been so tightly, seamlessly integrated into the ensemble that it leaves the music teetering on a desperate knife edge between passion and restraint.
It is difficult to fathom the generosity of spirit which led the cadre of superstar musicians featured and quoted in Secrets to welcome Sierra Hull as their musical peer. But that spirit pervades the album, and probably contributed to the extraordinary performances found in it. In terms of instrumentation, it is traditional bluegrass. But before you quite understand what is happening, and while being disarmed by her sweet, slightly naive girl's voice, Sierra the mando princess hijacks the flight and takes you on a sweeping musical soul journey to places beyond time and words.
Secrets is a fabulous, transcendent album. It really should come with a warning label. After a few listens, it is hard to go back to anything else. It leaves other, ordinary music sounding like it has a whole dimension missing....more info
Great album from an up and comer My main questions about this album before purchasing were "Can she really play the mandolin as well as I hear?" and "Can she really find musical material she can sing legitimately?"
The answer to the first question is a resounding "Wow!" She plays expressively, clean, fast and appropriate to each song. She is a major mando talent. I would like to hear her do something a bit more demanding than bluegrass. But I do like bluegrass and she can handle anything the genre requires.
The second question is really one of if you, as the listener, don't mind hearing a child sing adult songs. She has a sweet, beautiful voice. And in most country and bluegrass circles, the fact that she is singing songs beyond her experience is really not an issue. I found it slightly distracting.
My favorite vocal cut on the album is The Hard Way, a lovely tune with a great melody and subtle lyrics, both of which have mostly disappeared in mainstream country music (surprisingly, written by Keith Urban).
The instrumentals are flat out great. I will absolutely buy another album from this talented young lady!...more info
Sierra Hull: Mandolinist Extraordinaire I had the great fortune to see Sierra Hull back in 2007. There she was on stage with the Mark Newton Band, stage set about 50 feet from the RF&P railroad tracks in Ashland, VA. Her name wasn't listed in the program but leader Mark Newton kept mentioning her name and the long drive to Byrdstown, TN as Sierra had to be in school the next day.
There I sat in my lawn chair, about 20 feet away from the stage watching this beautiful young woman display her mastery of the mandolin along with delightful vocals. To hear her pleasurable voice is most enjoyable but to watch her fingers fly on her mandolin is a sight to behold!
As Sierra is just 17, she well on her way to developing her prodigal abilities to stardom; very much like her mentor Alison Krauss. As for her recording Secrets, all songs are pleasing, if maybe youthful work in progress. I find her efforts on the songs "Pretend" and "The Hard Way" most gratifying. The last song, "Trust and Obey" is a spiritual offering that will truly touch your heart....more info
Exquisite! I'm a jazz aficionado who is slowly warming up to bluegrass. After hearing "Smashville" on WUNC's Back Porch Music program I hurried home and ordered Sierra Hull's Secrets album. The whole album is amazing. She sings beautifully, her lyrics are very well done, and her playing...it's impeccable.
And it's not just her.
Every single musician is like lightning in a bottle. If you like your music fast, clean, clever, and fast, you will get a kick out of Secrets....more info
Secrets by Sierra Hull Sierra Hull is an excellent young artist that is very talented and will go far. This CD should be purchased if your a bluegrass fan....more info
Agree with other reviewers and... Let me say, I DO love Alison Krauss and the combination of her band-mates, Tyminski and Douglas, et al, such an awesome group of collaborators, and I'm sad to see her flit off with Plant (the musical combo of which I do not get), & whose music I liked back when...hope she comes back to realize her roots/strengths...and YES Sierra Hull has an AMAZING sound! Hard to believe she is just sixteen! She has an extremely bright future in front of her. Lol, She should hijack Tyminski, Douglas and the rest while lovely Alison is having her fling!;)...more info
Great stuff, really surprised me I was really surprised by this album. I didn't have high expectations, but the instrumental work is fabulous and her voice works very well on nearly every vocal track. Great stuff, I'd definitely recommend it....more info