Gig review: Rick Redbeard, Glasgow

Rick Redbeard. Picture: Contributed
Rick Redbeard. Picture: Contributed
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Flat of cap and fulsome and coppery of facial hair, Rick Redbeard Anthony kept things simple and personal at this launch show for his second solo album, Awake Unto.

Rick Redbeard | The Hug and Pint, Glasgow | Rating ****

Apart from one song sung as a dramatic Hazelwood-Sinatra style duet with his sister Josephine, Get Blood (Friendly), it was the man of the hour alone with his acoustic guitars that occupied the stage throughout, and that suited the understated and intimate nature of his Americana by-way-of Aberdeenshire songs.

Anthony is more familiar as frontman of the far louder and fuller sounding Glasgow kraut-folk six-piece the Phantom Band – “normally there’s sweaty and tattooed men dancing and fighting when I’m playing,” he joked, with colorful artistic license. But his solo material – sung in a rich baritone and evidencing a way with words and melody that feels somehow both ancient and modern – is an identifiable constituent part of that group’s very eclectic sound.

Not shy with his lyrical imagery, in Wild Young Country he invited a lover to “dance around with me tonight, as naked as when we were born”. Come Now We’re Dancing he was “standing at the foot of the bed, wearing just my beard and a smile.” With the carnal came the romantic. The Night Is All Ours was a swooning, starry ballad with hints of Roy Orbison.

It would be just as easy to place Anthony in a lineage of Scots folk singer-songwriters from Alasdair Roberts to James Yorkston as it would to view him in the American alt-country tradition of Bill Callahan and Will Oldham. The Atlantic felt truly pond-like during the rootsy twanging Yuki Onna and droney pastoral finale Field Years.