11 October 2017
Cardiff folk-rockers keenly display their influences while simultaneously showing their own contributions to the genre.
A warmth permeates the Voodoo Rooms as Wales’ humble addition to the folk-rock genre, Zervas & Pepper (Paul and Kathryn, respectively), take casually to the stage. Although joined by their backing band this evening, the duo stand cosily abreast and swiftly establish their harmonious precision in regard to both tone and attire. In addition, their charming rapport with the audience recalls the heyday of the genre when tales of life on the road felt adventurous, genuine and earned.
The set’s first half is dominated by melodic offerings from their latest album (Wilderland), which showcases their flirtatious affair with nature as a result of recording in the Colorado Rockies. Back-to-back new tracks flow into one another seemingly seamlessly, but the band remedy what is fast becoming a factory-line setlist with the injection of stand out smash, Miller (from the band’s third album Abstract Heart), here the band blossom with blistering unity, elevating their sound to a skin-tinglingly higher plain.
Hints of grunge’s origins strike with untamed vigour, percussion crashes with surprising valour, and lead guitarist (Simon Kingman) pierces the room with star-light rigour. Every member of the band excels in their own domain, however, the chance to hear the titular duo fly solo on a stripped-back acoustic track would be welcome. Often, the volume of the backing band tramples the duo’s vocal partnership, leaving no room for it to flourish. A tremendous shame, given the honeyed nuances that shine through from the quieter snippets of shadows.
Folk-rock billows with a myriad of pioneers and subsequent followers, which Zervas & Pepper live firmly in the wake of. This is not to say that they brandish their influences like a conceited Cub Scout with a sleeve of poached merit badges; no, they deliver a greatly impassioned set, bringing their own fresh slice of pie to the table. The time spent in their company is a balancing act that provides a nostalgic journey, a view of the present and a glimmer of what may come.
(Photo courtesy of: Philthy Mag)