Margo Cilker Premieres New Single “With the Middle” from Upcoming ‘Valley Of Heart’s Delight’ – Out September 15

Margo Cilker Premieres New Single “With the Middle” from Upcoming ‘Valley Of Heart’s Delight’ – Out September 15
Photo by Jen Borst

AUGUST 10, 2023 — Margo Cilker is set to return with her highly anticipated sophomore LP Valley Of Heart’s Delight on September 15 via Fluff & Gravy Records (Loose Music in the UK/EU). The upcoming record can be pre-ordered / pre-saved now HERE and the new songs can be heard live on Cilker’s extensive U.S. tour this fall (see below for full tour details). Today, in anticipation of the release, she is sharing the album’s final single, “With the Middle,” a stirring ballad about the all-too-familiar struggle for self-care. Hollerpraises, “‘With the Middle’ is everything we’ve come to expect from Margo Cilker, one of the most distinctive and self-assured voices to have stepped out of the world of American country-folk in the last few years…It’s a warm slice of languorous Laurel Canyon folk that brings to mind Laura Cantrell or Emmylou Harris on their most down days. One of those super sad country songs that goes down better with a cigarette and a deep pot of coffee.” Of the track, Cilker offers:

“After hearing ‘With the Middle’ about 30 times on a video shoot, my friend Bart texted me, ‘Regarding your middle song. Have you considered napping?’ I guess this is a song for those of us who can’t nap. It takes me to a time when I felt incredibly fragile. I like the way Sera’s production bolsters the song; the track was almost unbearably lonely before the drums, bass, piano and steel.”

Cilker previously shared album standout “Keep It On A Burner” via The FADER who says, “Cilker’s writing has an impressively clear-eyed view while her voice reflects her emotions with a winning honesty.” The song just entered the Top 20 on the Americana Radio Singles Chart and was named one of “5 Must-Hear New Country Songs” by Billboard Magazine alongside new singles from Maddie & Tae and Billy Currington. Cilker initially announced Valley Of Heart’s Delight with opener “Lowland Trail,” which saw Rolling Stone exclaim, “The singer-songwriter is poised to have a breakout year.” They went on to name the track one of the “20 Best Country Songs of 2023 So Far” listing Cilker among standouts like Megan MoroneyZach BryanLuke CombsMiranda LambertLeon BridgesJason Isbell & the 400 UnitAshley McBrydeMorgan Wade, Lainey Wilson, and more.

The forthcoming 11-track set was produced by Sub Pop alum Sera Cahoone (who also contributes drums) and recorded by John Morgan Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson) with studio players from The Decemberists, Band Of Horses, and Beirut. The title Valley Of Heart’s Delight refers to a place where Cilker can’t return: California’s Santa Clara Valley, as it was known before the orchards were paved over and became more famous for Silicon than apricots. She is the fifth generation of her namesake born there, and in this new collection of songs, family and nature intertwine as guiding motifs, at once precious and endangered, beautiful and exhausting.

Cilker moved from California to the Pacific Northwest in her mid-twenties and wrote much of Valley Of Heart’s Delight while living in Enterprise, Oregon, a small town near the Snake River and powered by the river’s massive, publicly-funded hydroelectric dams. The dams (part of the same system Woody Guthrie was hired to write about) provide clean electricity to much of the western United States but make it extraordinarily difficult for anadromous fish (such as Steelhead Trout) to return from the ocean and spawn in their native streams. Valley Of Heart’s Delight feeds off of this tension – how we live in and off of nature, how we live within and without family, and why we return to the places we were born. Of the record, Cilker explains:

“I wrote these songs surrounded by the wild landscapes of the Northwest, but I was leaning toward the place I’d come from. I felt cut off from my family and the valley that held them. I spent hours thinking about my sense of belonging. I’d traveled through many places and then, when the travel stopped, I ruminated on where I had ended up. Where were you when the music stopped? I was in Enterprise, OR. And there in Enterprise, my mind drifted back to the Valley of Heart’s Delight. I wrote about family — about death and rebirth, and the arcs of love and art through a family line. There are songs that hint at missteps and redemption. There are songs about trees: in orchard rows, family trees, redwoods. And water: agricultural runoff, wild rivers, dammed rivers, baptismal flows. And there’s a [cover] song about a fish, cause it’s a damn good song and I wanted to record it.”

Valley Of Heart’s Delight follows Cilker’s critically acclaimed 2021 Pohorylle debut, which resulted in a profile by NPR’s All Things Considered for “bridging the urban-rural divide through music” and was listed among the “Best Country Albums of 2021” by StereogumNo DepressionThe BootGlide Magazine, and more. Pitchfork called the record “a vivid introduction to this country artist who pushes against conventions of the genre that don’t fit her perspective,” and Rolling Stone added, “Cilker shows that she is as interested in reinvigorating Southern country-folk storytelling tropes as she is in exposing their flaws.” In the UK, Pohorylle was nominated for Americana Album of The Year alongside Brandi Carlile and Robert Plant and praised by The Guardian as “a flawless gem of a record.” Back in her current home state of Washington, the Seattle Times called Pohorylle “one of the finest records to come out of the Northwest last year.”

Valley Of Heart’s Delight will release on September 15, 2023 via Fluff & Gravy Records and can be pre-ordered / pre-saved now HERE.

Valley Of Heart’s Delight Tracklisting:
1) Lowland Trail
2) Keep It On A Burner
3) I Remember Carolina
4) Beggar For Your Love
5) Mother Told Her Mother Told Me
6) With The Middle
7) Santa Rosa
8) Crazy Or Died
9) Steelhead Trout
10) Sound & Fury
11) All Tied Together

Margo Cilker On Tour:

August 24 — Tønder Festival — Tønder, Denmark
October 5 — Zootown Arts Community Center — Missoula, MT
October 6 — Live from the Divide — Bozeman, MT
October 7 — Live from the Divide — Bozeman, MT
October 10 — Turf Club — St. Paul, MN
October 11 — Shitty Barn Sessions — Spring Green, WI
October 12 — Back Room at Colectivo — Milwaukee, WI
October 13 — Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon — Iowa City, IA
October 14 — Schubas Tavern — Chicago, IL
October 17 — Monarch Tavern — Toronto, ON
October 18 — Club Cafe — Pittsburgh, PA
October 19 — Mercury Lounge — New York, NY
October 21 — MilkBoy — Philadelphia, PA
October 22 — DC9 — Washington, DC
October 24 — Cat’s Cradle Back Room — Carrboro, NC
October 25 — Evening Muse — Charlotte, NC
October 26 — Grey Eagle — Asheville, NC
October 28 — JJ’s Bohemia — Chattanooga, TN
October 29 — 3rd & Lindsley — Nashville, TN
November 17 — Tractor Tavern — Seattle, WA
November 18 — Polaris Hall — Portland, OR
November 19 — Polaris Hall — Portland, OR

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