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Margo Cilker (from the album Valley of Heart’s Delight available on Fluff & Gravy Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Margo Cilker was born and raised in California’s Santa Clara Valley, so it should come as little surprise that the songs she sings on her sophomore album, Valley of Heart’s Delight, celebrate the place where her family lived for generations. Her current environs, the Pacific Northwest — a small town in Oregon located along the Snake River — provided an added muse, given its proximity to nature and the conflict between development and the need to respect the land and its natural resources.
A follow-up to her first LP, Pohorylle finds her reuniting with producer Sera Calhoone, who also sat behind the boards for Cilker’s debut. Recorded in Vancouver, the album features Jenny Conlee-Drizos of The Decemberists on piano, organ, and accordion, Rebecca Young of the Lindsey Fuller band playing plays bass, John Morgan Askew on banjo, Kelly Pratt of the band Beirut on horns, go-to session player Paul Brainard playing pedal steel and guitar, Annie Staninec on fiddle, Caleb Klauder providing mandolin and high lonesome harmonies, and Cilker’s sister Sarah on backing vocals. Margo Cilker sings and plays guitar while Calhoone dutifully does the drumming.
Following up an album that was nominated for UK Americana Album of The Year honors can make for an auspicious undertaking, but clearly Cilker was well up to the task. Valley of Heart’s Delight is an outstanding album, one that belies the fact that Cilker is still in the relative infancy of her career. Her assured yet affable approach bring an archival feel to the proceedings overall, be it through the tone and twang of a song like “Lowland Train”, the upbeat optimism conveyed through the brassy and boisterous “Keep It On A Burner”, the sprightly sound of “Remember Carolina”, the agreeable attitude found in “Santa Rosa”, or the rowdy resolve that powers “Steelhead Trout”.
That said, Cilker isn’t confined to any singular mindset. The quieter contemplation wafting through “Mother Told Her Mother Told Me”, the gentle drift of “With the Middle”, and the meditative musings of “Beggar for Your Love” along with “Sound & Fury” convey both resolve and reflection, each in equal measure. These are, in fact, timeless tales, stories that Margo Cilker conveys with feeling and finesse. In that regard, Valley of Heart’s Delight is clearly shown to be a place of great promise. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Margo Cilker from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Margo Cilker website
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