Sally Ann Morgan - Carrying
Multi-instrumentalist Sally Anne Morgan’s rich, intimate and modern music is cultivated with the seeds sown by folk, contemporary music and psychedelia. Her work exists in conversation with the living tradition of reinterpreting folk practices, from her music to her letterpress artwork to her microbrewery Leveller Brewing Co. Alongside new interpretations of traditional songs, Morgan also composes her own pieces drawing on her a vast knowledge of folk forms, and experience with her work as part of The Black Twig Pickers and House and Land (with Sarah Louise). Her music is traditional in the sense that she continues the practice of folk songs’ rich history in social and emotional narratives yet remains completely unbound by traditional song structures and forms. Infused with her singular perspective, Morgan’s music is elevated by her deft musical skills and her remarkably expressive voice that together create wholly new folk forms, familiar in their instrumentation yet distinctly her own. Carrying tills the rich soil of Appalachian traditions and Sally’s rural North Carolina surroundings into warm, reflective songs about navigating challenges, as well as the most joyous and personal emotions surrounding Morgan’s own pregnancy and recent birth of her first child. “The process of creating this album was intimately connected to the process of conceiving and birthing and raising a child,” says Morgan.
Carrying finds unity in life’s burdens and joys, shared experience of our day-to-day lives. "So much of what we accumulate and carry around with us burdens us, but we also can’t or don’t know how to let go," says Morgan. The album weaves a thread of common experience wrapping the listener in the intimacy of emotional response while simultaneously demonstrating the universal nature of many of these moments. Says Morgan, “I use my own music, the creation, formation and shaping of songs and compositions, as a way to explore and articulate the deepest, often most hidden and spiritual, parts – of myself, but also since we are all connected at the deepest level, it reaches a common connected force of some kind.” A deeply affecting process for Morgan was contemplating the awesome power of the human body and spirit; the complicated and unpredictable wash of emotions that come with nurturing and nourishing another life, while also starting a new venture with her and her partner’s microbrewery. The album’s songs are snapshots of Morgan’s own self-reflection as these changes came to define the upcoming chapter of her life.
Bridging the more freeform, expansive songs of 2021's Cups and the lucid beauty of her acclaimed 2020 debut Thread, Carrying finds Morgan masterfully crafting songs elevated by subtle and intricate arrangements. Morgan is joined by some of the most thoughtful players in the psychedelic folk and "cosmic country" spheres, including the foundational rhythm section of drummer Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn Band, Pelt, Black Twig Pickers), guitarist Andrew Zinn, and bassist/engineer Joe Dejarnette. The group also features guitarist Ripley Johnson (Rose City Band, Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo) contributing to Morgan’s arrangement of the Jack Elliott classic “Diamond Joe.” Morgan’s solo banjo opens the album on “Beekeeper,” her playing full and rich with nuance. Her complex arrangements and adept use of guests are evident on “The Center,” where flutist Lou Turner embellishes with trilling flutters and dancing melodies and on “Awake” where a stuttering tremolo guitar ripples through the rhythm section. Joseph and Matthew O’Connell help flesh out a pastoral rendition of traditional song “Streets of Derry” with synthesizer pads and tape loops that sift languidly beneath a pensive pulse of guitars and bass. Recorded and mixed by Dejarnette at his studio, and also Morgan in her home, Carrying brims with sonic delights which reward in their craft and details.
Sally Anne Morgan is a master craftsman and a true modern folk artist. The root of her songs share the roots of many great folk songs: “I find myself writing songs in praise of certain things in a very religious way but …more about holy compost than any other spiritual tradition I know of.” The songs born of these roots are entirely modern, expressive and wonderfully unique, a beautiful new voice advancing the folk form.