Folding glimmers of indie pop, drone music, and errant psychedelia into a sturdy base of Appalachian and British-inspired folk, Sally Anne Morgan makes her solo debut with the winsome Thread. Hardly a newcomer to either old-time music or the more experimental tenets from which she pulls, Morgan spent the 2000s immersed in arcane fiddle and banjo music, folk dancing, modern improvisation, and collaborations with a variety of interesting acts. She became a member of Virginia's eclectic Black Twig Pickers and later formed the critically lauded duo House and Land with fellow singer/songwriter Sarah Louise. Stepping out on her own, Morgan attempts to balance her competing influences, creating a set that feels at once simple and deeply layered. Over frail banjo and aqueous electric guitars she begins her journey not in the mountains, but across the Atlantic, applying her dulcet warble to the British maritime ballad "Polly on the Shore." Its gentle trawl sets a wistful throughline that reappears at various points throughout the album, especially on its tonal sibling, the lovely "Thread Song." An undeniable sweetness imbues the simplistic repetition of "Garden," a fingerpicked acoustic guitar tune that's also a resonant partner in the darker-themed "Wintersong." The rugged, looping fiddle trills of "Sugar in the Gourd" feel both ancient and plucked from the present, a neat trick that Morgan somehow has a knack for as on the instrumental ambient piece "Ellemwood Meditation." In the same way that many of the British folk greats of the late '60s and early '70s sought to honor the old ways instead of re-create them, Morgan manages to breathe new life into her traditional material and match it with strong originals without ever going overboard in her experimentation. The result is a deeply engaging debut with hidden depths to discover.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger