Album Review: Copper Viper – Cut it Down, Count the Rings

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        HanauGermany                          Ellis Bistro & Café

Sat 27       Frankfurt am MainGermany          Cafe Sugar Mama

Sun 28      KölnGermany                                       Weißen Holunder

Tue 30      TurnhoutBelgium                               Barzoen


Wed 1       LontzenBelgium                         House Concert 

Review by Joe Knipe


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