West-coast Americana standout Margo Cilker’s Valley of Heart's Delight, her second full-length in three years, is a nostalgic reflection on her deep connection to California's Santa Clara Valley, a place that once bloomed with orchards and family roots before the onslaught of urbanization and technology. Cilker is the fifth generation of Cilkers from the region and her music carries the essence of this land and the fragile interlacing of her family within touching on why we’re drawn to return home even when the place itself has transformed beyond the recognizable.
Like her debut, 2021’s critically-acclaimed Pohorylle, Cilker taps producer Sera Cahoone to join her back in the Vancouver, WA studio to capture music that is simultaneously simple but lush, humorous and poignant, authentic and sweet. The record opens with the straightforward “Lowland Trail,” a declaration of the wisdom in following the path of one’s own needs. “I'm Looking for a lowland trail / Got hills to climb in my own sweet time / Looking for a lowland trail,” Cilker sings before she’s joined on the trail by Kelly Pratt (Beirut) lending stirring horns announcing the introduction of first single “Keep It on a Burner.” We travel the country through Cilker’s eyes in the funny “I Remember Carolina” and plumb residual pain with her in “Beggar For Your Love.” Later the carefully chosen cover, Ben Walden’s “Steelhead Trout” takes us back to the land in a contemplation of humanity’s intertwining with nature for better or worse.
Valley of Heart’s Delight is a fitting evolution of the tumult captured by Cilker in Pohorylle, and a deeper look in at her engaging spirit, and much of the record is spinning nationwide from WXPN and WNRN to WAPS and The Current.
Photo by Jen Borstcrop