On Friday, February 28, Sierra Hull will release 25 Trips, the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to her groundbreaking Grammy®-nominated 2016 album Weighted Mind. Co-produced by Hull and producer/engineer Shani Gandhi (The Mountain Goats, Sara Watkins, Dwight Yoakam), 25 Trips continues the musical journey begun on Weighted Mind, a body of work that built off Hull's bluegrass roots and ventured into entirely new terrain.
But while its predecessor assumed a sparse and stripped-back palette,
25 Trips embodies a far more intricately arranged sound - an effect achieved with the help of peers like guitarist Mike Seal, bassist Ethan Jodziewicz, violinist Alex Hargreaves, and fiddler Christian Sedelmyer, as well as several musicians that Hull has long admired (including bassist Viktor Krauss, guitarist Bryan Sutton, multi-instrumentalist Stuart Duncan, and steel guitarist Paul Franklin). Other guests who grace the album with their presence include Molly Tuttle, Ron Block, Mindy Smith, Ronnie Bowman, Katie Pruitt, Angel Snow, and Hull's husband, acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Justin Moses.
Along with integrating electric instrumentation and percussion into her material for the first time, Hull dreamed up the album's eclectic textures by embracing a free-flowing process that often gave way to lightning-in-a-bottle improvisation.
25 Trips lures the listener into its unpredictable sonic world on the beguiling opening track "Beautifully Out of Place." Although much of the album bears a rich complexity, 25 Trips also includes moments of stark simplicity that perfectly showcase Hull's stunning vocal range.
On "Everybody's Talking," her luminous vocals quietly capture the frustration of finding clarity in the midst of constant chatter from the outside world. And on "Ceiling to the Floor"- co-written with Kai Welch, a songwriter/musician known for his work with Glen Campbell and Abigail Washburn - Hull spins a tender metaphor from her longtime fear of heights. Featuring a performance from legendary steel-guitar player Paul Franklin, "Ceiling to the Floor" drifts from memory to real-time reflection, slowly unfolding as a nuanced meditation on courage and love.
One of the most unexpected turns on 25 Trips, "Escape," penned with singer/songwriter Angel Snow, emerges as a delicate collage of hypnotic percussion, otherworldly electric-mandolin tones, and poetic yet plainspoken lyrics.
In closing out the album, Hull shares an especially poignant track titled "Father Time." With its heavy-hearted melody and choir-like harmonies, "Father Time" shows Hull's effortless finesse in embedding her music with so many subtle details.
Even as its songs continually shift in genre, encompassing everything from bluegrass to folk-pop to ethereal alt-rock, 25 Trips remains rooted in the sophisticated musicianship that Hull has cultivated almost her entire life.
She made her Rounder debut with the 2008 album Secrets and promptly garnered the first of many nominations for Mandolin Player of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. In 2016, after a near-decade of consecutive nominations, Hull became the first-ever woman to win the award, and then claimed that prize again at the 2017 and 2018 IBMAs. Over the years, Hull has also maintained a rigorous touring schedule, performing with such icons as the Indigo Girls, Garth Brooks, and Gillian Welch.
"One of the things I most enjoyed about making this record was getting to show the wide variety of music I love," says Hull. "I don't really know what category the album falls in, but I also think that matters less and less. What really matters to me is trusting myself to be who I am, and just putting my voice and my heart out there in the most sincere way that I possibly can."
Sierra Hull has confirmed the first dates of her 2020 tour, which starts on February 1 in Glasgow, Scotland. She will be on the road throughout the year, and more dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
25 Trips Track Listing:
- Beautifully Out Of Place
- Middle Of The Woods
- How Long
- 25 Trips
- Ceiling To The Floor
- The Last Minute
- Everybody's Talkin'
- Father Tim