Album Review: Margo Cilker – Pohorylle

Margo Cilker lives in Eastern Oregon but has travelled all over, her wanderlust reflected in her music of open skies and long, lonely roads. She’s now signed to Loose Records here in the U.K. and Pohorylle has been gained spots in many Americana albums of the year lists.

There’s a Western feel to much of the songs, mixed with folk and the haunted echoes of old country music too. Her influences range from Gillian Welch, to Cat Stevens, Little Feat, Bob Dylan and CCR – perhaps not a wide palate but she uses it with the confidence of an old master.

Americana music is rooted in place and this record takes us to That River, then to a Flood Plain and onto a canyon on Barbed Wire (Belly Crawl). Each wistful song building a world of dreamers and travellers, all looking for some kind of comfort or answers. On Broken Arm in Oregon she tumbles down a mountain, searching now for an escape to her physical, as well as emotional, pain. Her voice feels for the edges of longing, bringing the stories weight.

It’s not all gloomy either, finding a little joy here too on Kevin Johnson, a folk song for the Southern man. Then we end up in Tehachapi, named after the town featured in Little Feat’s Willin’. Here she’s in love with someone out on the road, the simple refrain is: will you think of me? You have to hope they get reunited somewhere on Blue Bayou.

She finishes on a note of quiet mourning for how times rips the heart out of us all. She wishes for another moment with those lost, or if nothing else for wine to drown herself in. We’ve all been there, even if we didn’t want to be. Wine in the World is one of the most desolate and yet strangely comforting songs I’ve heard in a long time.

Pohorylle feels like a winter record, the kind which doesn’t ask any more of you than to take shelter in its bones. So as the end of year darkens to a close, find some quiet warmth round the candlelight of these songs.


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