Psychedelic poet brings swirling, saloon-folk sound to Norman

The young East Coast singer/songwriter Pepi Ginsberg coos and yearns in a flexible voice that transcends sultry. What makes her third release, “Red,” exciting is that she gets to lose herself before the rest of us discover her future records and start making demands. 

Throughout the reckless “Red” are songs that swirl and ease into each other amid a backdrop of saloon-style piano, church organ, strings, banjo and Ginsberg’s sepia-toned, hushed poems. But in the album’s closer, “White, White, White,” Ginsberg careens into a stone wig-out. It sounds like a dream where Janis Joplin, on a bad trip, runs from dogs through the quiet hallway outside your apartment. That sound was producer Scott McMicken (and Dr. Dog co-founder) telling her to finish the song somewhere else.

“He was like, ‘Get in the hall,’ so I just got in the hall,” Ginsberg said. “There was a huge ladder and I started kicking around and going nuts, and they put a microphone out there.”

The quiet moments are balanced by the brisk tempo of the album, which contains meandering Doors-y moments that reveal an artist with nothing to lose. Meanwhile, with so many vibrations from the Sixties/Seventies golden era of British folk, Ginsberg acknowledges the rich paradigm she’s working in, and hopes to change it.

SATURDAY SHOW
Ginsberg said she fell into music on the way to becoming a sculptor, maybe a writer. By the end of her college days, she found her voice while playing songs for audiences eager for more. She will join Norman indie outfit Sharktooth for a 9 p.m. Saturday show at Opolis.

“I just really like words. It just facilitated being able to write more songs,” she said. “I took some experimental voice classes. The more I found out things about my voice, the more I found that as another mode of expression.”

Her lyrics contain the sophistication of a considered short story (“I am running off the graces of your pleasure”), and there’s special lyrical attention to the otherworldly. At one spot in “Red,” she tackles perdition, and in “Wind or Degree,” her voice transforms with ghostly acoustics and sundry found sounds lurking behind. Here she’s out of the past and in a church choir, and paradoxically in its rotating energies. It sounds immediate.

“One song has many potential places it can go, and what’s right to me is doing what feels right at the time,” she said. “I’m trying to be more precise now ” the songs change a great deal depending on who and what they are exposed to.” “Danny Marroquin

Danny Marroquin

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