4 stars (out of 5)
For an Alison Krauss + Union Station album, Secrets is not bad at all. But as a project from teenage mandolin whiz Sierra Hull it’s quite remarkable.
The Kraussian comparison has to be made, not only because Ron Block coproduces and every member of Union Station contributes, but because of Hull’s beatific voice, which is only slighlty sharper and almost as deft as Alison’s.
That voice is perfectly suited for tunes on the acoustic pop side of the spectrum, like the title track, “Pretend,” “If You Can Tame My Heart,” “The Hard Way,” “Only My Heart,” and on the nineteenth century hymn “Trust and Obey.”
Grassier material like “From Now On,” “Two Winding Rails,” “Everbody’s Somebody’s Fool” and Marshall Wilborn’s “That’s All I Can Say” are delivered with equally beautiful authority.
Throw in a couple of scorching instrumental pickers like “Smashville” and “Hullarious,” which also features Hull on guitar, add contributions from Clay Hess and Tony Rice (guitar), Jim VanCleve and Stuart Duncan (fiddle) and Rob Ickes (Dobro), and you’ve got an auspicious recording debut from a major young talent.
by Aaron Keith Harris