Jul 12, 2021
By Caleb Campbell
Photography by Gina Leslie
North Carolina musician Ric Robertson has quietly built a reputation as a chameleon-like creative over the years. He’s played backup as a touring bandmate for everyone from Rhiannon Giddens to The Wood Brothers, he has learned non-musical vocations like filmmaking, claymation, and puppetry. Alongside it all, though, he’s also crafted his madcap songwriting style. Pulling from a mix of jazz, funk, country, and folk Robertson carves his own lane with an alluring playfulness that is all his own. Nowhere is that combo more apparent than on his upcoming full-length record, Carolina Child.
Robertson has already shared “Getting Over Our Love” and “Carolina Child” from the record, featuring contributions from Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius along with Lucius drummer Dan Molad on production. Now Robertson is back with his latest single, “Sycamore Hill,” premiering with Under the Radar.
“Sycamore Hill” bears no small resemblance to the late John Prine, not only in Robertson’s reedy, plainspoken vocals but also in the song’s gentle humor and love for life’s simple joys. Robertson’s vocals amble through the track, tracing his isolated locale’s natural beauty and his carefree mountain living. While Robertson is up on Sycamore Hill, all that is needed is nature’s wide-open spaces, “a record on deck and a bottle of wine,” and a loved one for some company. As much as the track is a tribute, it’s also an invitation, a gentle reminder to disconnect from life’s stresses and find your own Sycamore Hill.
Robertson says of the track, “‘Sycamore Hill’ came about during a week of isolated exploration and writing on a beautiful property outside NC’s Hanging Rock State Park. Feeling much gratitude and reverence for the place I was fortunate to stay, I wrote this as an homage to that little cabin, those woods, the quiet. One of my early songwriting mentors, Laurelyn Dossett, lives in another house on the property, and as I was finishing the song, we crossed paths in the laundry room, where she pointed out the line of Sycamores that had just been planted up the hill. Sycamore Hill. That was all I needed.”
Check out the song and the charming music video below and watch for Carolina Child, out July 30th via Free Dirt Records.