After listening to Daybreak numerous times to absorb the feel of it, I found such a large Alison Krauss influence that I expected to find her listed as the producer (she’s not, the album was co-produced by Barry Bales and Sierra Hull). Giving it some more listening time I found some Rhonda Vincent influences and I’m sure there’s more than a few other influences that I’m missing. How could a young up-and-coming musician not be influenced by some of the most talented people in bluegrass? Giving the album yet more listening time I found that Sierra has managed incorporate these influences into what is very much her own sound. Daybreak also finds Sierra moving beyond the label “child prodigy” into, well, “adult prodigy” doesn’t sound right… but I think you get the idea!
The album opens with “Easy Come, Easy Go,” and with lyrics about losing ones first love, and not being a child anymore, it could sound sappy in less capable hands. Instead Sierra brings a wistfulness to the song that will remind her elders of their youth and make them wish they were young again. “Don’t Pick Me Up” is lilting radio-friendly song about, yes, love followed by “All Because of You,” which is a darker, somewhat brooding song about love. “Bombshell” lets Sierra cut loose with a shining mandolin led instrumental jam. “Best Buy” is a surprise entry as a Western Swing tune. “I’ll Always Be Waiting For You” is another tune that could be taken for a young Allison Krauss. “The Land of The Living” takes us into gospel ballads, “What Do You Say” opens as a toe-tapping fiddle reel which turns into another bluegrass tune of the “happiest sad music” tradition. “Tell Me Tomorrow” is an upbeat song of love, “Daybreak” is a mellow love ballad, and “Chasin’ Skies” is the album’s second instrumental highlighted with a guest appearance by Brian Sutton. “Wouldn’t Matter To Me” closes the set with yes, another well crafted love ballad.
“The Land Of Living”
Sierra’s band is Clay Hess (guitar, vocals), Jacob Eller (bass), and Christian Ward (fiddle). They’re backed by too many guests to mention them all, but in addition to Brian Sutton, Dan Tyminski sits in and certainly adds to the familiar sound.
Sierra wrote seven of the songs on this album, and she’s managed to craft a suite of songs firmly in the traditional sound of bluegrass, and yet at the same time giving us a glimpse of the long future she has in front of her. It will be a pleasure to listen to her journey in music!