Album review: Rick Redbeard - No Selfish Heart

Rick Redbeard of the Phantom Band.
Rick Redbeard of the Phantom Band.
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THE DEBUT solo record by the Phantom Band’s lead singer Rick Anthony is a raw statement of intent.

Rick Redbeard - No Selfish Heart

Chemikal Underground, £11.99

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Stripped of the group’s electronic whirrs and bleeps, Rick’s warm aching tones are even more resonant, whether he’s rasping like Lee Hazlewood on the opening Clocks, or scraping the roof of his upper register on the floaty lightness of Old Blue, a lament lifted by a sonorous fiddle, making the melody all aflutter.

By way of contrast, Any Way I Can seduces with stuttering electric guitar, and a structure close to a conventional pop song. Even closer to a conventionally traditional folk song is Kelvin Grove, but a couple of “bonnie lassie ohs” will do that to a tune.

Made in his familiar home territory of rural Aberdeenshire, the music reeks of earthy authenticity, the lyrics anguished and personal to the point of mild embarrassment.

Cold As Clay (The Grave) has the buoyant pessimism of John Barleycorn – “I can see them with their baying hounds and howling wives,” he sings with surprising glee.

This is a serious and thoughtful record, distanced by design from the Phantom Band that begat it, no less compelling but far from a clone of that endeavour. A strange Caledonian parallel to the Canadian blueprint, the glorious title song is a sensitive but steely raking of emotional ashes.

Download this: No Selfish Heart, We All Float