Album review: PEPPERKID2 – Adventures In Pepperland

PEPPERKID2 – Adventures In Pepperland

Website [Release date 12.11.21]

Pepperkid2 is the brainchild of FM’s keyboardist Jem Davis. Joining Jem is Mike Dyer (Grand Slam) as the main vocalist/co-writer. Also appearing on the album is Dyer’s fellow Grand Slam band member guitarist Laurence Archer, along with Jem’s FM bandmates Jim Kirkpatrick and Steve Overland.

It certainly is a magical mix of musical styles, encompassing prog, power pop, rock, pop and that grandiose 70’s storytelling feel that the likes of 10CC, John Miles and latterly, Cats In Space, do so well.

“In the summer of 2020, during Lockdown,” Jem reflects, “I moved to a cottage near Lutterworth that came with amazing ready-built studio. Naming it ‘Electric Pepperland’, I immersed myself into my music, writing whatever inspired me. It soon became clear that there were many songs that didn’t fit the FM vibe and I needed to get them out there somehow, so under the guise of a project I called ‘Pepperkid2’ I set to work!”

As you’d expect from a solo album from a talented keyboardist there are plenty of solos to be enjoyed, from the progtastic one on ‘Finding My Way’ through to ‘Breath Of Life’, which features plenty of piano, keys and goes full on Pink Floyd halfway through. Laurence Archer rocks out on the single ‘After The Rain’, the heaviest moment on the album.

‘Behind The Glass’ is a beautiful piece of psychedelic pop whimsy, mixing Beatles and ELO influences to great effect. Steve Overland adds a soulful vocal to ‘Fools Lullaby’. His voice seems to be getting better with age, no mean feat as he’s always been one of my favourite singers. Lovely bit of piano on this song too.

‘Something Gotta Give’ has a topical lyric, plus a seasonal feel to it. A possible Christmas single release? Plenty going on in this one, including a children’s choir and like all the songs on here, listen carefully for the various sound effects and added sounds.

Don’t go expecting an FM sounding album like Steve Overland is often involved in. ‘Adventures In Pepperland’ is more down the diverse route and a proper solo album, in that it hardly sounds like his ‘day’ band. Jellyfish is the one artist that keeps coming to mind when listening to this album, more in the musical arrangements and harmonies than vocals, as Mike Dyer has a deeper, rockier singing vocal.

A very enjoyable album, not at all what I was expecting, and all the better for it. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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