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New Music Reviews


Margo Cilker POHORYLLE. Loose

“I’ve seen Margo down and out, and I’ve seen her light as a feather, spinning her heels in a warm wooden barroom with the weight of the world miles away. I’ve seen Margo listen to strangers, allowing no detail to escape. This all makes it possible for her to write down these songs, and to sing these songs so well, and to push the compass across the page in a way that makes you want more.”

Let me start by declaring this record my country album of the year. Cilker’s expressive, natural and smooth voice combined with simple, largely piano-based, arrangements gives the record a rare warmth, as she spins her tales. For me, Cilker is the essence of country music opening with the stunning ‘That River’ that flows along slowly over a strong melody, thoughtful voice and superb arrangement (featuring a superb piano refrain) that compels one to stop and listen. It’s got everything including a powerful emotional pull.

Next track ‘Kevin Johnson’ travels upbeat with another spell of piano magic with drums subtle in the background beating the song’s toe-tapping rhythm. Listening to this I’m reminded of Parton in both the vocal similarity and song writing. ‘Broken Arm In Oregon’ offers a darker, bass-driven vibe as Cilker tells her country tale while ‘Flood Plain’ dives into heavy contemplation with a softly strummed guitar accompanying Cilker’s convincing voice.

This record offers 9 superb songs, diverse in pace and feel. Cilker is without doubt a talent to watch and on the strength of this has the brightest possible future. Essential



MARGO CILKER is a woman who drinks deeply of life, and her debut record POHORYLLE, due fall 2021 on Portland label Fluff and Gravy, is brimming with it. For the last seven years, the Eastern Oregon songwriter, who NPR calls one of “11 Oregon Artists to Watch in 2021,” has split her time between the road and various outposts across the world, from Enterprise, OR to the Basque Country of Spain, forging a path that is at once deeply rooted and ever-changing.

As POHORYLLE traverses through the geography of Cilker’s memories-a touring musician’s tapestry of dive bars and breathtaking natural beauty-love is apparent, as is its inevitable partner: loss. For what bigger heartbreak is there than to be a fervent lover who must always keep moving? Cilker seems keenly aware of the precarious footing upon which love stands, and at many turns, the record circles something that is staggeringly beautiful and slipping away.

I am a woman split between places,” Cilker sings on the album’s wistful closer, touching for a brief moment upon the vast dichotomies of her selfhood and her profession, and the negotiation that she conducts between them.

“I’m just very inquisitive. I’m a very curious person. Why are things this way? Do they have to stay this way? You know, how can things change?” Cilker asks. It is this part of her nature that expands POHORYLLE into the complex journey that it is: her ability to crack open a moment of desperation and lay it out on a table to catch a careful light.

Pohorylle, which carries gentle nods to Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, and Gillian Welch, shines under the instincts of producer Sera Cahoone, whom Cilker first came across in 2019 while planning her first full-length. “I was trying to pin down what kind of sound I wanted and stumbled across a video of Sera and just loved how she performed. I then listened to her last studio record and thought, that’s the sound.” Cilker says. “I found out Sera had produced that record herself with John Askew. My friend put me in touch with her and she liked my demos enough to produce the album. It felt very auspicious-It was truly just a gut feeling.”

Cahoone quickly got to work assembling a first-rate band: Jenny Conlee (The Decemberists) on keys, Jason Kardong (Sera Cahoone, Son Volt) on pedal steel, Rebecca Young (Lindsey Fuller, Jesse Sykes) on bass, Mirabai Peart (Joanna Newsom) on strings, Kelly Pratt (Beirut) on horns, and the album’s engineer John Morgan Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson) on an array of other instruments. The record also prominently features effortless harmonies from Sarah Cilker, Margo Cilker’s sister and frequent touring partner.

Over the last six years, Margo Cilker has toured extensively across the US and internationally, and is a staple in the independent festival circuit. She looks forward to returning to the road in full swing in 2021.


Danny George Wilson ANOTHER PLACE. Loose

Danny George Wilson (Bennett Wilson Poole, Danny & The Champions Of The World, Grand Drive) unveils a radically surprising new solo album Another Place to a world coming up for air. Celebrating the future returning with a vibrant and diverse collection of startling, impressionistic songs produced in tandem with Sussex-based, studio-wizard Hamish Benjamin and his frequent collaborator Henry Garratt, helped along by pedal steel maestro Iain Sloan (Peter Bruntnell, Wynntown Marshals), and with memorable guest appearances from Emma Swift (Blonde On The Tracks), Gerry Love (Teenage Fanclub), and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco).

There were moments on this record that I thought I was listening to early Neil Young. It took me till song three to get into this one, and how! ‘I Wanna Tell You’ is a lumbering giant of a song bursting with emotion and not-a-little darkness. Wilson’s voice is detached and wonderful as he tells this story which is backed by a powerful melody and beautifully judged instrumental arrangement. ‘Heaven For Hiding’ adopts a lighter, upbeat tone while ‘Can You Feel Me?’ features a familiar-sounding and strong chorus that could so easily qualify the song for heavy radio airplay.

‘Right Place’ is a very emotional song sung with great feeling and expression with a wonderfully judged instrumental backdrop. There’s swooning vocal choruses and a subtle country sound here and a quality that makes this one of my favourites on the record. ‘Giving Away Too Much’ takes a welcome rockier and diverse route while ‘We’ve Got A Lot To Learn’ offers a more adventurous and distinctive sound. ‘I Would Be In Love (Anyway) is an interesting marriage of Hammond and contemplative vocal in what results as a slow, beautiful romantic ballad, and another favourite.

The record concludes with another favourite. ‘Inbetween The Love’ moves at glacial pace as Wilson could be mistaken for Mr Young as he tells this sad, romantic and moving story. This is a lovely and very moving record which deserves your attention.


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