“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest couldn’t be more perfect for the feature. Not just because Sally Anne Morgan‘s work as half of House & Land (along with the sublime Sarah Louise) whose album “Across The Field” was one of VS’ favourites last year, but better still, she owns her own sheep! One of which features in the photo by Katrina Ohstrom above, also in the video (also by Ohstrom) for “Thread Song” and in amongst the album artwork for the brand new record on Thrill Jockey, with the winsome yet simultaneously titled “Thread”. Sally Anne is an award-winning fiddler, banjoist, and vocalist also known for her work in The Black Twig Pickers and “Thread” – her solo debut, is an absolute thrill, like laying down and rolling down a hill.
Despite its natural, pastoral feel, there’s nothing roughly hewn about “Thread”, it’s an artisanal work of the highest quality and striking a timeless cord, much like her beloved Sandy Denny. And from family research, although my name Hutchings suggests otherwise I’m not related to Ashley of Fairport Convention as far as I know, but my family tree has uncovered generations upon generations of farm labourers, so perhaps that’s why I feel like a diviner twitching at the suggestion of water when I hear the agricultural yearn of meditative tunes like “Thread Song” or my other favourite “Garden Song”.
Last time out on these pages, Morgan chose a tune by Emanuelle Parrenin, which was a welcome education, so I was pleased when Sally agreed to aptly rejoin us on Velvet Sheep. Welcome back to VS, Sally Anne Morgan!
Sally Anne Morgan is influenced not only by the “rhododendron thickets, creeks and mountains of her local landscape in Western North Carolina”, she very much is a student of Appalachian folk and also modern improvised, minimal, microtonal and drone based compositions from all over the World. She interweaves the music of her foremothers with the otherworldly sounds of an uncertain future, but much as it is experimental it very much genuflects to the traditions of a sacred land and of folk story telling. Sally Anne Morgan’s voice floats like the down of a Dandelion clock, caught in a gentle breeze, it’s ameliorative, transcendental even.
Yet the quiet contemplation belies the studious industry of Morgan’s restive soul. In addition to Black Twig Pickers and House and Land, Morgan also plays with Asheville based Actual Cloud Formations and equally interested in visual art, Sally does letterpress printing and illustration under the name Ratbee Press. Her eye for design is never truer than on the new album sleeve artwork for “Thread”.
Anyhoo, enough blathering on by me, let’s see/hear Sally Anne’s top notch song choice. Without further ado, here’s Sally Anne Morgan’s (second) “song for ewe”…
“The one song I’ve listened to more than any other in the past year has been “Sloth”, by Fairport Convention, from their 1970 album “Full House”. I slept on this record for a while as it was their first without Sandy Denny, who I love, so I figured it wouldn’t be my cup of tea. But “Sloth” is so killer!
The interplay of Richard Thompson’s electric guitar and Dave Swarbrick’s fiddle is the best thing I’ve ever heard. It’s a heavy moody jam that keeps getting better. Plus there are tons of live versions that are fun to watch on YouTube…though I think I like the one from their album the best.”
THANKS TO SALLY ANNE MORGAN AND TO MATT FIDLER AT THRILL JOCKEY
“Thread” (Thrill Jockey Records) is out on 21st August and you can pre-order it on this link
Here’s Sally Anne Morgan’s previous appearance on VS with the ever brilliant Sarah Louise.