Everything Old Is New Again — Zervas & Pepper

3 Jun

That perfectly sums up the music of Zervas & Pepper, a duo from Cardiff, Wales. The songs of Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper harken back to an earlier era of rock ‘n’ roll, when bands such as Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and Fleetwood Mac were flourishing.

While the music is certainly a throwback to an earlier era, that doesn’t mean it should be confined to being played only on Thursdays (Throwback Thursdays…). Their songs strike me as authentic and from-the-heart — true creative expression that happens to mimic the heavier folk-rock that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the U.S. West Coast.

The duo has a new album out called Abstract Heart. For some reason, we at KZSU received a 6-song EP cleverly entitled EP. The first four tracks from that EP are taken from Abstract Heart, with two other songs from previous Zervas & Pepper albums.

My favorite song on the EP is “Foolish Dreamer.” It features ringing guitars and rich harmonies in a radio-friendly, rocking melody. There’s a nice guitar solo in the lead break.

The next cut on the EP is the title track of the Abstract Heart album. This song sounds amazingly like Stephen Stills or Buffalo Springfield. Sweet jangly and strummed guitars support the emotive male vocals in a lilting arrangement.

All of the songs on the EP are worth playing. “We Are One” showcases Pepper on lead vocals, which soar higher and higher together with male backing vocals. “Miller” opens the EP with a stop-and-go rhythm, strummed guitar, the occasional cry of a far-off electric guitar, and rich harmonized lead vocals. “Sure Fire Bet” is flowing folk-rock number, again with stunning harmonies.

The closing number is “Cigar Store Indian,” an instrumental arrangement with guitar and rock ‘n’ roll flute á la Jethro Tull. It builds to a big, but brief drum solo at the end.

If you don’t happen to have a time machine handy like I do at KZSU every Friday morning at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, Zervas & Pepper will gladly transport you to the late 1960s or early 1970s through their music. Don’t forget your tie-dyed shirts and lava lamps!


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