Multi-instrumentalist Sally Anne Morgan tills the soil of old timey music, folk practices old and new, and psychedelia to sow music that reaches out beyond its roots. Cups dives headfirst into the waters of Morgan’s unconscious mind and plumbs those depths for swells of fertile brilliance and awe. In stark contrast to the traditional and pop-informed structures of her previous album Thread, Cups adopts a free-flowing approach intuitive and receptive, brimming and shifting and changing across a fragile equilibrium of pieces both improvised and composed. The fluid pieces twirl from pensive, looped fiddle to tiptoed banjo to patient, sunny parlor guitar arpeggios to droning dulcimer and a litany of percussive ripples with gentle ease. By distilling her most immediate inspirations into layers of sparkling timbre and buoyant rambles, Sally Anne Morgan’s Cups builds a sense of community from within, like a back porch jam with her own subconscious.
Cups divines splendor and surprise from Morgan’s off-the-cuff approach to assembling the record. Steeped in a relaxed glow and flowing with acoustic reverence, 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 instead 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” 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” as fiddle loops compound and the evening air spills through open cabin windows. “Through the Threshold” recalls the fiddle tune “Sugar in the Gourd” amongst sifting waves of legato bowings and trickles of accented percussive fiddle, handbells, xylophone and wooden frogs.
Taking its title from the minor arcana in tarot, Cups’ casual yet graceful pieces crystallized as devotionals to the mundane and everyday. Simple pleasures like home cooked soup after time spent away becomes a joyful, sprawling dance of melodies to savor on “Home Soup”. The dilemmas of pastoral life and the impending slaughter of Morgan’s first ram on her homestead are laid bare with a tender tranquility on “Pythagoras”. With momentous impending changes on her horizon, Cups became a meditative idyll for Morgan to steady and connect with herself. Cups builds on a sense of calm in resistance to the constant surge of one’s ego in service of better understanding one’s Id. “Everything about these songs is deeply intuitive, from the gut, trying to not think about it with my conscious mind,” notes Morgan. “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.”
Morgan’s process of crafting the pieces of Cups imprinted a sense of marvel as they tumble freely from one passage to another in a constant state of curiosity and realization. Each motion reveals more of Morgan to herself. Sally Anne Morgan’s Cups is the deep reflection of an artist forging bonds with the universal unconscious that guides all living things and finding the latent power within her own instincts.