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-  Label: 'Thrill Jockey Records'
-  Genre: 'Folk' -  Release Date: '11th September 2020'-  Catalogue No: 'Thrill 528'

Our Rating:
Up to now, Sally Anne Morgan has primarily been known for her fiddle playing in the subtly updated versions of Bluegrass tunes as part of Black Twig Pickers. She has also paired up with Sarah Louise as House and Land. 'Thread' is her debut solo album and features her partner Andrew Zinn on guitar, and drummer Nathan Bowles.

Morgan's oneness with nature is evident from her website biography which states that her music "invokes the rhododendron thickets, creeks and mountains of her local landscape in Western North Carolina."

This kinship with the natural world is found in Garden Song, a bright-eyed celebration of the joys of gardening in which "nothing is a weed" and "everything is green.". It can also be witnessed in the video to Thread Song where we see her frolicking with lambs, bonding with cows, stroking chicks and proudly showing off a batch of fresh laid eggs.

Her appreciation of the traditions of Appalachian music is in keeping with this 'back to earth' philosophy as is her day job as a letterpress artist. However, despite valuing the conventions and simplicity of bygone eras, she is not averse to experimentalism. Influences include the psychedelic leanings of the British quintet Trees. the prog-orientated Third Ear Band and the innovative work of gifted American instrumentalists Pauline Oliveros and Johanna Brouk.

The album's opening track is her version of the traditional ballad - Polly on the Shore which Trees recorded although is better known through treatments by Fairport Convention and Shirley Collins. The song immediately provides proof of Morgan's dexterous fiddle and banjo playing as well as introducing the listener to the fragility of her wavering, untrained voice. The delicate vulnerability of her vocals is also a feature of two other much covered folk songs - Wagoner's Lad and Annachie Gordon.

The other half of the album highlights her own compositions, including two fine instrumentals : the "neolithic stomp" of Sheep Shaped and the beautifully lilting loops of Ellemwood Meditation.

In Wintersong, she explores the mysteries of the season and brings home the fact that, in many ways, 'Thread' makes for an ideal companion piece to 'Deeper Woods' (also on Thrill Jockey) which was released by her ex-musical partner, Sarah Louise, in 2018. Both albums are rooted in the land, pay respectful homage to old folk tunes and illustrate a natural affinity for modern improvisation.

Sally Anne Morgan's website
  author: Martin Raybould

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