Zervas & Pepper – Wilderland
There was a nagging doubt that had crept in that maybe Zervas & Pepper had peaked on their first album with the stage favourite ‘Cigar Store Indian’. However, ‘Wilderland’ dispels all those concerns in 46 minutes flat.
Taking a year out to concentrate on writing and recording was always going to be a risk. Will the audience move on? Will the industry doors still be open when you return? The strategy has paid off big time and not only should this album raise their profile in the UK it should also help establish them Stateside as well. Wilderland was partly produced by James Raymond who is David Crosby’s son and fellow bandmate from CPR and he has created a warm, organic and rich sound.
The quality of the song writing is flawless throughout with melodies that soar and linger. The piano ballad ‘Change Courses’ is equally heart breaking and breath taking and demonstrates just how good Kathryn Pepper’s voice is. “Hotel Bible” is an absolute barnstormer with its radio friendly production, glorious harmonies and an exquisite Stills/Young inspired guitar workout.
Zervas & Pepper are a band with a liberal political conscience and this is evident on songs such as ‘Roses of Jericho’ inspired by meeting a young Hispanic girl who had left home to find work in New Mexico. Elsewhere ‘Citizen’ is a positive, upbeat take on the plight of refugees “Come on in, come in don’t you know that you have always been welcome here.” If ever we needed a band to raise consciousness and be a voice of opposition for these dark Trump days then Zervas & Pepper fulfil that role perfectly.
We don’t award stars for album reviews but if we did this would be a 5 star must buy. For fans of well crafted, acoustic songs with superb melodies you simply won’t hear a finer album this year.