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Album Review: Vertigo
Stephen Peppos
Cover image of the album Vertigo by Stephen Peppos
Stephen Peppos
2008 / Tarvin Music / Sonic Bear
72 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Vertigo, Stephen Peppos’ debut release as a solo artist, is a mind-boggling mix of electronica, “nu” jazz, new age, and pop stylings. Peppos has produced more than two thousand tracks for his original music libraries, composed national TV jingles, and worked with some of the best music libraries in the world. Heard on some of the most popular American TV shows, Peppos’ music has earned him six Telly and Rim awards to date. Already named The Best CD of 2008 (it’s only February!!!) by Jamey Osborne of Audiosyncracy, Vertigo is generating some major buzz and should bring this extraordinary artist some well-deserved attention. The music is so varied that it’s amazing that one person composed all of it. Two years in the making, this CD clearly demonstrates Peppos’ versatility as a composer as well as his incredible musicianship. Playing keyboards, guitar, and a dizzying array of musical instruments (via keyboards), Peppos is joined by his son on one track (guitar), Tommy Loyola on saxes on four tracks, and Rob Dominick on trumpet on one. Otherwise, it’s all Stephen Peppos, providing a richly textured sound with a very cinematic quality. Several of the “bigger” tracks remind of some of Yanni’s music, but there are also several tender, graceful pieces that melt the heart.

“Lazy Day” begins the CD with a smooth jazz piece for piano, guitar, and some accompanying strings and other instruments. Upbeat and accessible, I would expect this one to get some heavy airplay. “In the Piano” is one of my favorites. One of the more subdued pieces, Tommy Loyola’s sax sets it on fire. “The Blessing” is a graceful beauty with an intoxicating slow-dance rhythm. “Atmos” ramps up the energy level a bit, with guitars as the lead instruments and a variety of other sounds layered for great effect. “Forever” is a gentle love song that begins as a piano solo and evolves into a piano and cello duet, adding more orchestration near the end - another favorite. The title track pulls out all of the stops. Starting out with piano and percussion, Kevin Peppos’ guitar work and the strong rhythm are the soul of this intense and passionate piece. “Summer’s End” begins with the sound of ocean waves, becoming a combo made up of piano, bass, trumpet, guitar, and even organ. Dark and sultry, the melody is slow and melancholy. I also really like “Chasing the Sun,” a piece that swirls and sparkles with warmth and enthusiasm. “The Way Home” is a lovely ballad full of longing and nostalgia. Poignant and and deeply emotional, it would be perfect for the closing credits of a really good movie. “End” sums everything up with orchestration; voices; a strong melody; jazz piano, organ, and guitar; and a big, triumphant quality that leaves the listener feeling very satisfied.

Vertigo is an auspicious beginning for Stephen Peppos as a solo artist, and I’m sure this CD is going to do great things. Check it out at stephenpeppos.com, CD Baby, Amazon, and iTunes. Highly recommended!
February 19, 2008
This review has been tagged as:
Debut Albums
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