Rick Redbeard - No Selfish Heart
Outstanding debut solo album from erstwhile Phantom Band man Rick Anthony
And the man called Rick Anthony, hitherto deified for conducting The Phantom Band like a stars-and-brimstone preacher, retreated to rural Aberdeenshire; cultivated an elegiac Redbeard; amalgamated an earthly Scots tongue with collective half-memories and Southern Gothic ambience: made something akin to a masterpiece.
There is not a violin note, picturesque guitar line or tambourine-pulse out-of-place, or wasted, on this outstanding debut solo album -- from the creaking piano on falsetto psalm ‘We All Float’, through the gorgeous, spartan chamber-folk of trad-ballad ‘Kelvin Grove’, to hirsute, stripped serenade ‘Now We’re Dancing’.
Anthony’s peat-crackling baritone considers love, loss, nature, carnal obsession and the attempted retrieval thereof -- most acutely on beatific country-dirge ‘Cold as Clay/The Grave’ and yearning, bruised devotional ‘Any Way I Can’, which rings out like a sublime, if painful, salvation. Let us give thanks for the bard from the north with the beard of red and the unselfish heart.