Cut it Down, Count the Rings is the debut album from prolific singer-songwriter duo Copper Viper. Comprised of London based pair Robin Joel Sangster and Duncan Menzies the duo adopts an almost simplistic style of acoustic bluegrass that gives them a soft and tender melancholy.
The most striking element within Copper Viper’s work is how deftly they have amalgamated traditional stylings from folk and bluegrass together. A rare and complex construction of ballads that can raise and sink your heart at the drop of a pin. There is a haunting vein of melancholia that runs through their work but not in a way that leaves you feeling drained; it’s an awareness that it never quite leaves but it melts in and out of frame as their honey-sweet melodies fade in and out above it. Their website states that the pair have a sound that is both familiar and unique and this couldn’t be more apt. Songs like Amber Light have a real sense of nostalgia to them as they hive echoes of the likes of Simon and Garfunkel to their tender melodies and the deft but minimalistic plucking of their guitar and mandolin allow you to focus completely on the content of their song, not just the beat that comes with it.
Sangster and Menzies have a pair of utterly beguiling voices that work together so well as it becomes difficult to imagine one without the other. Soft, tender and gently hazy their vocals meld together to create beautiful and simplistic lullaby harmonies that cut through your very soul. Although folk and bluegrass shares a similar environment and audience, the reality is that the two genres are very separate at times; however the way that Copper Viper marry to two together with traditional folk ballads and sombre bluegrass lyrics is constantly fascinating. Cut it Down, Count the Rings is a journey in itself that is rife with stark juxtapositions like the jump between Unseen, a completely vocal song that is eerily beautiful and then like a lightning strike, straight into Hung Up Alone – a raucous and foot-stomping jam that will get your blood pumping and your feet moving.
Copper Viper is formed of two phenomenally talented young musicians who are able to shape the world to their will with just a guitar, a fiddle, a mandolin and a few choice words. It’s a fascinating and beautiful story that veers and careens in ways you won’t come to expect. A perfect blend of genres that blows through you like the wind.
Copper Viper · March-May 2019 · UK/European Tour
Tue 12 Birmingham The Wagon & Horses with PerKelt
Wed 13 Salford The Eagle Inn with PerKelt
Thu 14 York The Fulford Arms with PerKelt
Sat 16 Hull The New Adelphi Club with PerKelt
Mon 18 Newcastle upon Tyne The Cumberland Arms with PerKelt
Wed 20 Nottingham The Old Salutation Inn with PerKelt
Thu 21 Cambridge The Boathouse with PerKelt
Sun 24 London The Hope & Anchor with PerKelt
Fri 29 Oxford Oxford Folk Club, The White House
Wed 3 Kingston upon Thames Woody’s Bar and Kitchen
Sat 6 London Green Note Album Launch Show
Fri 26 Hanau, Germany Ellis Bistro & Café
Sat 27 Frankfurt am Main, Germany Cafe Sugar Mama
Sun 28 Köln, Germany Weißen Holunder
Tue 30 Turnhout, Belgium Barzoen
Wed 1 Lontzen, Belgium House Concert
Review by Joe Knipe