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Album Review

Morgan, Sally Anne – “Cups” – [Thrill Jockey Records]

aarbor   7/27/2022   A Library, CD

North Carolina multi-instrumentalist Sally Anne Morgan tills the soil of old timey music, folk practices old and new, and psychedelia to create music that reaches out beyond its roots. Cups dives headfirst into the waters of the Morgan’s unconscious mind and plumbs those depths for swells of fertile brilliance and awe. Cups includes both improvised and composed pieces. There’s pensive, looped fiddle, tiptoed banjo, sunny parlor guitar arpeggios, droning dulcimer and percussive ripples.
The pieces push outside the rigid bounds of the fiddle tunes that Morgan was raised on, and embrace the inspiration of a moment. Morgan’s composing and recording process was less centered on capturing the perfect take but on finding unique moments and combinations of sounds that reflect back distinct parts of herself. The steady strums of banjo and flutters of fiddle on “Prune” [2} were initially laid atop tambura which was subsequently removed from the piece to give a stronger sense of space and slower pace. Scattered glockenspiels speckle “Night Window” [1] as fiddle loops compound and the evening air spills through open cabin windows. “Through the Threshold” [6] recalls the fiddle tune “Sugar in the Gourd”. Cups, which is named for the tarot card of the same name, is a set of casual yet graceful pieces – devotionals to the mundane and everyday. Simple pleasures like home cooked soup after time spent away which becomes a joyful, sprawling dance of melodies [7]. Pythagoras [4] is about the dilemmas of pastoral life and the impending slaughter of her first ram. “Everything about these songs is deeply intuitive, from the gut, trying to not think about it with my conscious mind,” she says. “In many ways my path as a musician has been a slow lesson of turning off my thinking rational mind and learning to trust my body and subconscious.” AArbor,

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