High-class vocals on promising debut album hints at a bright future for Oregon singer-songwriter.
For her debut album ‘Pohorylle’ Margo Cilker has drawn on the experiences gleaned from seven years on the road and at various outposts across the world. The album traverses through the geography of Cilker’s memories, from Oregon to the Basque country, the themes of love and loss are a constant.
Pondering on the dilemma facing many a touring troubadour, both the loving of and the frustration of a life on the road, Cilker contemplates in particular the inevitability that, in this environment, love must ultimately lead to loss and heartbreak.
And it is in this context that Cilker applies her vocal talents to an album that, although broadly country both in feel and sound, has her diverging into varying aspects of the genre. ‘Chester’s’ is a slower ballad that addresses that travelling life “Cos I’ve made my bed on the side of the road, I’ve seen my good friends get married and then feel alone, I’ve seen the drunks in a line at Chester’s, I can’t let myself get lonely no more.”
‘Brother, Taxman, Preacher’ by contrast a has honky-tonk piano and a simple, old-time feel to it while opening track ‘That River’ flows exactly as the title implies. The song features sister and frequent touring companion sister Sarah on background vocals and some exquisite strings from Mirabai Peart.
There is an undoubted new talent on display here but suggestions that the record has nods to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch may be a little premature at this stage. That the album has some genuine highpoints is undisputed but the overall feel is a tad uneven and underwhelming in places. That said, producer Sera Cahoone has assembled a strong lineup to accompany Cilker in the studio and that talent, taken alongside a distinctive vocal that is heaven-sent for this genre, results in a highly promising debut.