Thread by Sally Anne MorganRelease date: June 19, 2020
Label: Thrill Jockey
Thread by Sally Anne Morgan should be accepted by Avant-folk fans with open arms and even more open ears, even though it bears the marking of a debut album. Well, actually, it isn’t really a debut as Morgan has been around a while and part of some great and exciting projects like The Black Twig Pickers and House and Land, a duo with Sarah Louise, whose ‘Across The Field’ was one of the most adventurous folk albums of recent years.
As with her other two projects, on Thread Morgan is able to cloak the stark, Appalachian folk sound with almost anything – from folk/pop, through psych-rock to ‘clean’ experimentalism and ‘simple’ drones. Well, it all might seem ‘clean’ and ‘simple’ on the surface, but there is musical mastery brewing behind it all, like the banjo variations of the opener ‘Polly on the Shore’ or the gentle acoustic guitar/fiddle musings of ‘Garden Song’.
Throughout, Thread sounds like a various artists (very clean) field recording on one hand, and as a cohesive work of a singular artist, where the tying glue is Morgan’s vocals. What Morgan tries and succeeds with here is her attempt to bring the city modernity to the country and cover it with natural flowers and greenery of folk music. She pushes the listener to discern various elements involved like on ‘Sheep Shaped’ where her fiddle playing is combined with some intricate hand-drumming patterns but then pushes them to combine these elements back into a unified whole with aplomb and ease.
In the end, it seems that Sally Anne Morgan’s message with Thread is – folk and modern music might seem separate, but they are actually more or less one thing – natural music. Of course, if you treat them right.