The Lewisburg, West Virginian turned Seattleite has released a heart wrenching juggernaut with Riddles & Rhymes that's as savory as it is sweet. The opening track, "Fishing Girl," harnesses an acoustic soul with layers of soft-plucking string instruments and percussion that creates an entire album that's addictingly sweet and graceful.
But Pepper's voice is where she separates herself from the rest of the pack. Flaunting chops easily comparable to Regina Spektor and Joanna Newsom, "Wrinkled Love," begins with slow, pining instrumentation before her powerful words come in and turn the mood from hopeful to longing. What's best, however, is the fact this isn't your typical indie folk album. There's an atmosphere that envelops each and every track, pulling and tugging the listener down a path that's at times very dark and very bright.
From "Love You, Love A Riddle," which flaunts layered harmonies over leisurely piano and guitar, to "Bus Stop," which tells the story of various people she encounters on a crowded bus, each track is deeply embedded with tremendously rich and thought-provoking lyrics that tell a story of their own. This is rainy day music, driving to work music or just passing the time music -- but more than anything, it's honest music that is transparent and engaging.
Pepper Proud is the type of artist you hope to stumble upon early on, for the sole fact you can say you've been a fan for years.