Margo Cilker

REVIEW: Margo Cilker “Valley of Heart’s Delight”


Margo Cilker  – Valley of Heart’s Delight (Fluff and Gravy)

Margo Cilker has a brand new album Valley of Heart’s Delight, produced by Sera Cahoone (Sub Pop) and recorded by John Morgan Askew (Neko Case), and mastered by JJ Golden of Golden Mastering.

Margo makes the kind of music that fits right into the sweet spot of the Americana niche, with songs that are relatable and exciting.  This is why she is Americana’s rising star this year.

“Lowland Trail” sidewinds electric guitar in a blindingly catchy, immediately lovable song I will dub “classic Americana.”  Her vocals climb up into Joni Mitchell territory on this song and it’s just fabulous.

“Keep it on a Burner” is settled in a cradle of horns and an easy, lazy day beat.  “I’ve got postcards, I’ve got music, I’ve got someone’s hand to hold, ..  I’ve got use for this old soul … sometimes I feel indignant beneath the water line  … but … I keep it on a burner in the back of my mind.”

“I Remember Carolina” is an ode to places and people and things (Carolina, California, Montana, Idaho, Boston) that didn’t always feel exactly pleasant, although sometimes they were just fine, and the cheeky question whether the places remember us as well?  Pedal steel carries this one away.

“Mother told her MotherTold Me” is an excellently written, painful exploration of family and the difficulties involved in staying and leaving, and the secrets buried under the family tree. “Mother told her mother told me / What was out under the family tree / I don’t need this town, I will always find another / Even if I often wander back again. Oh, the love / The way it cuts / Better than a knife / Bleeding for a lifetime.”

“Beggar For Your Love” is a vulnerable thoughtful song of reflections and gentle touches of banjo. “When you get lonely I will remember / How it hurt me when I was a beggar / Beggar for your love.”

This whole album is wonderful, beautiful, honest and timelessly folksy and is going to be one of this year’s best. Find the music and more information here:

Enjoy our previous coverage here: Editor’s Pick: Favorite Albums of 2021

Musicians on the album are Margo Cilker on vocals and guitar; Sera Cahoone on drums; Jenny Conlee-Drizos (The Decemberists) on piano, organ, and accordion; Rebecca Young (Lindsey Fuller) on bass, Kelly Pratt (Beirut) on horns; Sarah Cilker on vocal harmonies. Paul Brainard (M. Ward, Richmond Fontaine) on pedal steel and guitars; Annie Staninec (Mary Gauthier) on fiddle and viola; and Caleb Klauder on mandolin and harmonies. Sera Cahoone: drums, vocals; Kelly Pratt on horns; Ben Walden on vocals and harmonica; and John Morgan Askew on banjo. The cover photo was taken by Jen Borst, with illustration by Jared Leake, and additional photography by Matt Sharkey.

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