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Zervas And Pepper - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - July 25 2013 (Live Review)

Friday, 26 July 2013 Written by Dave Ball

Some artists just fit with certain situations. With the recent heatwave across the UK, Zervas and Pepper couldn’t have picked a better time to release their second album, 'Lifebringer'. Written in LA and packed with the breezy West Coast harmonies that made their debut a critical favourite - earning radio play on Radio 2, 6Music and more - it’s a record which drips with sunshine.

To celebrate the release, the couple, along with their band, played a small album launch to 150 or so lucky people at Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, including fans who were among the first to pre-order the album. Shows like this can often be slightly awkward affairs, lacking that bond between band and fan, but the easy-going, witty demeanour of both Kath Pepper and partner Paul Zervas engaged everyone from the off.

As is to be expected from an album launch, the vast majority of the set is new material, given an extra kick live as the songs are brought to life. Jerome has been receiving plaudits for a while now, while less familiar tracks, like the gentle folk of Lookout Mountain, show off the beautiful blend of vocals that has become their trademark.

Living In A Small Town has an edgier feel to it and pushes the attention to Zervas and Pepper's lyrical talents. While their songs rarely have much of a personal feel, their stories are skilfully told and there are signs that Lifebringer will see their writing come to the fore.

The band jump into their early EPs for a few tracks, and King Of The Skies sees guitarist Simon Kingman rip into an old school rock solo while all six of the band become completely lost in the music. Get Gone, another EP track, has Kingman strap on a Strat for a Mark Knopfler-esque riff that has heads bobbing across the room.

Back on 'Lifebringer', Hobo's Ticket allows Andrew Brown, on bass, and Jack Egglestone, on drums, to show off the rhythm section, while the set closes fittingly with the final track of the album, All The World Has Changed. The close-knit vibe is then emphasised further by Pepper pointing everyone to the merch stand, which is manned by her parents.

While some will point out easy comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, particularly with Pepper sounding more like Stevie Nicks than Nicks does these days, that would do a disservice to the progression made from their early EPs and debut album.

Despite some clear influences, there is more originality here than you may first notice. Zervas And Pepper’s own description of the new album probably sums it up best: “sunny, cosmic, retro folk rock”. It’s a very good collection, but this is a band you have to see live to fully get your head around their sound.


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