MARGO CILKER – ” Pohorylle “

Posted: November 6, 2021 in MUSIC
May be an image of one or more people and text

With only 2,000 residents, Enterprise, Oregon is the largest town in Wallowa County. It’s surrounded by vast cattle ranches and boxed in by the stunning Wallowa Mountains and a foreboding 8000-foot-deep gorge called Hells Canyon that straddles the Idaho border to the east.

Despite that remoteness, it’s also home to a music community that nurtures the work of artists like Margo Cilker, whose debut record “Pohorylle” was released this week. Cilker’s arresting voice is the latest in a line of songwriters inspired by this wild corner of northeast Oregon.

Cilker, who’s worked day jobs as a server at local restaurants and most recently on a poultry farm, is fascinated by the people she comes across in everyday life. “And that’s why I love music and song writing, it’s because it’s fun to profile people. I love meeting colorful characters. I could strike up a conversation with the wall.” “If you’ve got to ramble, ram.”

The third single from Margo Cilker’s upcoming debut album ‘Pohorylle’. Out 5th November,

Cilker’s enthusiasm for documenting the human condition has earned her supporters from well beyond the shadow of the Wallowa Mountains, including respected Seattle-based musician Sera Cahoone. “I love her lyrics,” said Cahoone. “She’s witty. She’s just a great songwriter. It was pretty immediate for me. I was like ‘Whoa, that is such a tricky lyric that you did there!’ So I knew that she had something special going on.” Cahoone produced Cilker’s debut record, “Pohorylle.” The new album features 11 songs punctuated by barroom piano, pedal steel guitars and bouncing horn arrangements. But surprisingly, Cahoone’s favorite song is also one of its simplest— a goosebump-inducing confessional called “Flood Plain.”

Cilker wrote the piece about her relationship with husband Forrest Van Tuyl, a musician who works seasonally on horseback as a professional cowboy. It’s a stunning performance that showcases her versatility as an observational writer who can also look inward.

“Yeah, that’s just a song about marriage,” said Cilker. “It’s a song about giving each other space. It’s a powerful message of ‘things are really hard right now, but I’m not letting go. I’m going to hang on.’ I had this image of an elastic—sometimes someone does have to ramble. If you’ve got to ramble, ram. Go and come back. It’s that kind of leniency I would want someone to offer me, too.”

2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Cilker, who recently signed a record deal with Portland-based label Fluff and Gravy. She and Van Tuyl plan to overwinter on a ranch near the Columbia River Gorge before heading out on tour together. It’s a much-needed break from two years of COVID-19 imposed isolation in Enterprise, which is already one of the most secluded places in the country.

But after that extended ramble, Cilker plans to return to the wide-open spaces of the American West.

“I mean, why shouldn’t someone live in the middle of nowhere—center of the universe—and make art?”

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