Step Right Up: Rick Redbeard
Rick Redbeard is the pseudonym for The Phantom Band’s Rick Anthony; ‘No Selfish Heart’ is the debut solo work of Rick Anthony which was released by Glasgow label Chemikal Underground at the start of the year – a beautifully realized folk masterpiece.
Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry
“There is a grave
On the far side of the woods
That bears your name
But now lies empty”
Scottish independent label Chemikal Underground is responsible for yet another indispensable folk treasure. Last year it arrived in the shape of Adrian Crowley’s ‘I See Three Birds Flying’, and for 2013 it is the singular voice of Rick Redbeard. The debut solo album is entitled ‘No Selfish Heart’: an album that has been a long time in the making. There are themes of love, place, and the passage of time interwoven amongst the heavenly instrumentation and arrangements. ‘No Selfish Heart’ possesses an intimate, homely feel that exudes a fireside intimacy, akin to a treasured Leonard Cohen record. Beautiful melancholy breathes the very space these songs are calling from, and in turn, Rick Redbeard’s album inevitably becomes part of you.
Rick Redbeard AKA Rick Anthony is also the lead singer with Scottish band The Phantom Band. Some of the material on ‘No Selfish Heart’ pre-dates The Phantom Band’s 2009 debut ‘Checkmate Savage’ by as much as five years. ‘No Selfish Heart’ represents a life’s work and is a hugely inspiring and fulfilling journey. It feels like a culmination, where Rick Redbeard’s spartan folk and endearing words remain deeply rooted to your consciousness-now and forever more.
Rick Redbeard: “It’s my attempt to harness that sense of yearning for something you’ve never had or can never hope to recapture. The nostalgia for when I was a child-growing up in the countryside-has never left me, it’s a constant melancholy for something I can’t even name anymore.”
‘No Selfish Heart’ was recorded in Rick’s parents house in rural Aberdeenshire and his home in the west end of Glasgow. The album’s backing vocals are provided by Rick’s sister Jo. I feel a parallel with Nick Drake-a kindred spirit-whose sister Molly serves as accompaniment on many of his treasured recordings. Similar to Drake or Cohen, the warmth of storytelling radiates magically from Redbeard’s divine songbook.
Rick Redbeard: “I’ve always been attracted to comforting music; for me, Leonard Cohen’s music is never depressing, it’s soothing. I want people to hear my songs in the same way I’ve heard certain music over the years: like kind words from an old friend.”
The album’s monochrome artwork-a scene of autumnal woodland, conveys the themes of solitude, nature and the changing of the seasons. ‘No Selfish Heart’ exudes yearning for such a place, where one hundred years of solitude reigns in your beating heart. The directness and openness of each of the ten songs-whose immaculate prose and poetic lyrics, stirs your soul and soothes your heart. Is there higher praise for a work of art?
“There’ll be a place
When we reach the other side
There I’ll lay in your arms forever”
(Lyrics are taken from ‘Cold As Clay (The Grave)’ from Rick Redbeard’s album ‘No Selfish Heart’).
‘No Selfish Heart’ by Rick Redbeard is out now on Chemikal Underground.