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When Riddy Arman came to Lulu’s last year, she talked to the Indy about making music that’s more Western than it is country. Now the venue is bringing us Margo Cilker, whose music suggests a similar intent. Unlike Arman, Cilker doesn’t spend her off-road time riding horses and writing about herding cattle, but her music is a no less refreshing antidote to the contemporary redneck pop that continues to come out of Nashville.

Released last winter, the West Coast native’s full-length debut album Pohorylle was produced by singer/songwriter/drummer Sera Cahoone, with a studio band that includes members of The Decemberists, Beirut and Son Volt. Upon hearing it, the artist who will most immediately come to mind for many of us is Emmylou Harris. But you may also detect traces of Waxahatchee, Lucinda Williams or Kate Wolf, whose “Across the Great Divide” she’s been known to cover. Cilker is a remarkably gifted songwriter, one who doesn’t shy away from venturing into uncomfortable terrain.

“Heard a woman go on record / Sayin’ there’s one night that wrecked her / When a young man closed his hand across her mouth,” she sings on “Broken Arm in Oregon,” a song she happened to write after watching the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Not exactly the kind of lyric you’ll be hearing in the Country Music Top 40 countdown. But if you’ve read this far, you probably don’t listen to that anyway.

Music Editor

Bill Forman is the music and film editor of the Colorado Springs Indy, as well as the former editor of Tower Pulse Magazine and news editor for the Sacramento News & Review.