Stuart Anthony and Larry Beckett. A duo who’ve developed quite a reputation with their collaborations over the past five or so years. Beckett, best known as lyricist to Tim Buckley and author of the immortal Song To The Siren; Anthony as a solo artist and with his own The Long Lost Band. Their current project, Risk Is Music, presents another combination of their words and music.
Release Date: 7th August 2020
Label: available on Bandcamp
Format: Limited CD / DL
So, to set the scene, over the decades (Wiki tells us it’s a work that’s lasted 44 years) Larry Beckett has been developing an epic work called American Cycle featuring ten book-length poems based on pioneering heroes and charismatic places in America’s history. One figure without which it would not be complete is the self-liberating pre-war pilot Amelia Earhart. Larry published his eponymous poem based on her life in 2018.
When Stuart got a copy of Amelia Earhart, he felt inspired to try to capture the spirit of her in music. Having a trusting relationship, he was given a free hand to choose which passages to use.
Three songs were written, plus a cover of You Belong To Me, the old 40’s and 50’s song, made famous by The Duprees was recorded as well. The EP title Risk Is Music comes from the poem itself (included in the Air Heart lyric). Stuart himself plays all the instruments with the EP produced by Beckett and Anthony’s long-time friend and producer, Paul Walmsley.
The brief Blue Flight – featuring sounds of the Lockheed 10 aircraft she flew – is a peaceful 12-string and piano-driven song and deals with her eventual disappearance.
Skywriting – a lyric that deals with the transcendence of flying – is set to gentle piano and intimate in your face/in the room vocals. You’d be hard-pressed not to hear Neil Young on the delivery. We head more into Nick Cave (with tones of Eddie Vedder) territory on Air Heart. An adventurous, multi-layered song that captures Amelia’s spirit of adventure as it takes off into its own sky. Much denser and flowing slowly like treacle.
Finally, You Belong to Me features Larry Beckett on piano and was chosen for its reference to the ‘silver plane’ flying across the world. The intention is to imagine the piece being sung by Amelia’s husband.
Risk Is Music is a short flight; all over too quickly at just over ten minutes. You want more. Too much of a good thing leaves one wanting less. An inspiring set of vignettes that will inevitably guide us back to Beckett’s American Cycle.
Listen to Blue Flight here:
You can read Stuart’s why I Love on The Kinks here