PEPI GINSBERG: Red [Park The Van]

When Pepi Ginsberg opens her mouth to sing, countercultural throwback signifiers come spiraling out: rose-tinted glasses, patchouli clouds, gypsy skirts, lungfuls of dope smoke, Janis Joplin. This 25-year-old Brooklyn singer/songwriter’s beanbag tunes exude a refreshing sense of freedom and possibility, even if she comes across as extraordinarily leathery: Natalie Merchant-husky vocally, sub-Dylan lyrically. She tackles the 12 tracks on Red with a breezy confidence beyond her years. On “The Contortionist,” all flashing-siren organs and fuzz-bass pow, Ginsberg transforms an emotional and financial swindle into a bouncy garage-rock party. “Nothing More,” a campfire folk number suffused with chirping-cricket samples, explores political dissatisfaction, head-in-the-sand ignorance and unrequited love for a best friend: a downer trifecta. But it’s “Ghosts Of Perdition” that encapsulates Ginsberg’s carpe diem appeal. As pianos whump like dancing feet, she sings, “There used to be a year, you say, when people didn’t write/ They showed up on friends’ doorsteps late in the middle of the night/Said, ‘Let’s go to the West Side, catch a movie, maybe we get ourselves high.’” Just live life already, Ginsberg seems to insist, while you’re still able. Like her beat/hippie psychic ancestors, maybe she is onto something. []

—Raymond Cummings