Pepi Ginsberg has a distinctively mournful voice with a remarkable range. On her latest CD, Red she croons with a weathered and passionate warble about her inner demons (real or imagined), sleeping with strangers, getting high, and starting anew. She's a kind of troubadour for the 21st century, gracefully channeling '60s psychedelic pop and folk and retooling it to fit her own imaginative stylings.
Red is full of off-kilter rhythms and unexpected instrumentation. Spare violins dance woozily with bleating trumpet lines and shuffling rhythms. Fuzzy guitars take a walk with reedy organs. The mood is melancholy one moment, joyous and celebratory the next. The mix is sonically ambitious without overwhelming the heart of the songs, due in no small part to producer Scott McMicken, frontman for the Philadelphia-based psych-rock group Dr. Dog.
When Ginsburg arrived home from a tour last Summer she found a note in a bottle on her doorstep from McMicken, asking if she'd like to record a song together. What initially started as a one-off recording turned into an entire album. "The Waterline" was the first track they did together.
"It was just a composite of things that were brewing in my head as I walked around the city," says Ginsberg. "It's a really city-centric song, feeling an affinity for St. Mark's church, I'd walk by there and some girl (was) tripping on some kind of acid jaunt outside there with her hands held up. She was on a whole other level and I don't know what she was doing. It's a little bit of an adventure story. It's not necessarily about water but the idea that things could be overwhelming, but you're going to feel the pull of it whether you're drowning or staying afloat."
Red is Ginsberg's third release. Her debut, in 2005, was the self-produced and recorded Orange Juice:Stephanie/Stephanie. She followed with Sometime Momma/Sometime Babe in 2006, an album she recorded in the bathroom of her Brooklyn, NY apartment.
Ginsberg has been writing feverishly since completing Red and is currently touring in support of the album.
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