>> Copper Hill’s debut album combines unique song writing and endearing melodies.
Conjuring up images of your entire year in the blink of an eye, 'Once Around the Sun' is aptly named. There’s something beautifully dreamy about the entire album, starting with the song “Poppies,” the listener is asked “don’t you wanna sleep”? But you won’t hit the pillow and close your eyes drifting off into creamy emptiness. Instead you’ll start slowly remembering your last year, the last time you went completely around the sun. There’s something incredibly endearing about the music right away. The two violins, upright bass and banjo combine to make it sound old timey,, but it’s lead singer Willa Finck’s ability to sound more like Regina Spektor than Pokey LaFarge that keeps this group from sounding like a rehash of old school country folk music. Make no mistake, this is something new. By the time the second song on the album is over, heart strings are already being pulled and that’s when "Genevieve" comes on and the band takes on a new shape of foot stomping barnyard dancing. The two voices combining on this track are delicious and it’s possibly this group at its very best. Harmony and bassline combine to drive you into not wanting to dance but sincerely needing to. It’s folk and country, it’s Americana, it’s jazz, it’s even pop somehow, and then thrown into a blender and it comes out smooth and sweet, leaving you to wanting to take another sip, song after song. Copper Hill are made up of a group of Eastman students, and it’s obvious this band is trained. But it’s not to the detriment of the band at all. Any calculation is kindly cuddled and hidden by the band’s overall warm persona uniquely present on "Moonshine." It seems that whenever Willa Finck and Katie Knudsvig sing together the harmony gives off a familiar and wonderful feeling that brings out the very best in this group of talented musicians. The banjo of Ethan Cypress adds an underlying melody on top of it all and the driving, timely, and encompassing bass lines of Caroline Samuels brings them all together for a truly sensational and unique sound. Even without the vocals in the instrumental title track of Once Around the Sun, the band shines just as bright.
In an interview with Rochester Indie Musician Spotlight, they are dubbed as Chamber Folk. Labels can be dangerous and a term like Chamber Folk could turn someone off in a hurry. The band has on their website that Banjo Player Ethan Cypress refers to them as “Folk-Art Music” which has a nicer ring. The wrong label could certainly confuse audiences on what this band is “supposed” to be and unfortunately your casual music fan will probably never get more than a quick listen. This band could be a stuck as a musician’s band, where musicians see them as what they are: talented, excellent song writers, amazing. But the casual fan may never catch on, leaving them behind in obscurity, The Replacements of “Folk-Art” the Big Star of Rochester, New York. Packaging is going to be important for this group, as it is for all bands, but more so for Copper Hill. To reach the audiences they deserve, marketing may come before music, and for a group this talented that could be a sad fact.
This is a really good debut album. It sounds as if they’ve been together for years and have already fine-tuned their song writing and melodic harmonies through years of touring and studio work. But that’s not true. They’re a young band and young themselves. If they’re churning out high quality music now, what will happen in another few years? Or at the very least, another 'Once Around the Sun'? What’s more, the production does not take away from the music at all. They sound as if they’re in the same room together but each instrument is clearly defined. That’s not easy to do and an audiophile is going to sincerely appreciate this. This band is meant to be consumed live and recordings can often times kill that feeling (Listen to The Replacements “Tim” for an example) but here the feeling remains alive and well. It only enhances how good this band is and how great of an album this is. Listen to "Genevieve," "Moonshine," "Wildflowers" (great solo), and "Witching Hour" if nothing else. You’ll be back. <<