Rob Richings is a man making good on a promise to himself. The singer-songwriter’s debut album ‘Parkas and Boots’ is a collection of observant and personal folk songs – the tales of a troubadour who knows too well how fragile life can be. Watch here.
It was a brush with death that gave Rob a new sense of perspective and renewed lease of life. In 2009 he was diagnosed with a rare and severe form of colitis, which after years of mis-diagnosis, metastasised into cancer. Now, following three life-saving and life-changing operations Rob is thriving and can expect to live a relatively normal life. While on the road to recovery Rob decided enough was enough and it was time to get serious about his music. “I don’t want my illness to define what I do,” Rob says, “but at the same time, that illness and the way I look at life now has made me a better songwriter.”
After releasing his debut EP, ‘Half Way Up’, in 2015 – recorded in the New Forest – Rob decided to head to more distant shores to record the album. ‘Parkas and Boots’ came to life in Sydney, Australia, under the guidance of producer Chris Vallejo (Passenger).
Rob’s songs are, understandably, incredibly poignant. After all, nothing quite focuses the mind on the past like the possibility of not having a future. “The album is quite nostalgic. The songs are about growing up and how I had a sense of openness and freedom. But then as I got older, life became more complicated and I realised how free and easy my childhood was.” The songs on his debut solo album ‘Parkas and Boots’ carry gently positive messages that mark Rob out in a genre so often spent exploring life’s darker corners.
‘Ten Seconds’ was written when Rob was very ill, inspired by the first ten seconds of the day when everything is okay, before reality kicks in. ‘Half Way Up’ is about being positive in the face of hardship and the prosperity of others, “sometimes it is hard not to be a glass half empty kind of person” explains Rob, “strive for a better life but be happy with what you have too”.
‘Sunset in Tibet’ is a song of conflicting emotions, wanderlust and homesickness “I love to travel but I also love being at home around my family and if I’m away for a week I’m itching to get home” explains Rob. ‘Give’ is about the power of community spirit and how it is lacking in modern society. “For me, it’s all about communicating with an audience, presenting my songs and drawing them in, it’s very direct. There are no affectations in the way I sing, I just sing the songs the only way I know how” says Rob. Simplicity, honesty and heart are what Rob’s music is about.
‘Parkas and Boots’ marks an exciting new chapter for Rob. Now 36, married and with two young children, Rob may seem to be taking a gamble on music, but when you’ve nearly been down and out, the only way is up. And Rob Richings is determined to climb high.