"Our last record was written as an escape from the situations we were dealing with at the time. But there is only so long you can suppress reality." - Kathryn Pepper, 2015
Zervas & Pepper seem to be pitching Abstract Heart as something of a comedown album. If Lifebringer was a dream of coasts, canyons, and Americana, its follow-up is the life to which you return upon waking. It's an album of troubles and sadness and terror, and of attempting to deal with those problems in the best way possible.
Having said that, we're still in much the same musical territory as we were back in 2013. Z&P have brought a few new tricks back from their recent trip to India (most audible on closing track Celestial Friend), but overall, they're still emulating their American heroes: David Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, and so forth.
All of which brings me to my final point, and the reason why - ultimately - Abstract Heart is a better album than Lifebringer (which, just to clarify, I love). Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper spent the duration of their last album playing pretend; one minute they were cowboys, the next they were rail-riding hobos. They were living out their dream of being West Coast people, but as much fun as that was, it was all a pastiche. Abstract Heart is the TRUE voice of Zervas & Pepper, and it's great to see them using their musical influences to say something of their own.