Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Here Lies the Body
- David Pollock
- 16 April 2018
Compelling combination of blackly humorous, painfully honest vocals and delicate, emotive Spanish acoustic guitar
There's a sense of inevitability to this collaboration by two of the most embedded (and heavily bearded, and SAY Award-winning) mainstays of the Glasgow music scene, both of whom have been familiar faces for the past two decades. It would be convenient to ask why it hasn't happened before, in fact it has; on RM Hubbert's collaborative Thirteen Lost and Found album back in 2012. The pair are a compelling combination, between Aidan Moffat's familiar, blackly humorous and painfully honest half-sung vocals, and Hubbert's delicate, emotive Spanish acoustic guitar playing.
There are further pleasant surprises to be had elsewhere on the credit list here, with Siobhan Wilson – one of Scotland's brightest and most fully realised young talents – playing cello and making regular lead and backing vocal contributions, and appearances by pianist and composer Rachel Grimes and jazz saxophonist John Burgess. Moffat, a perennial collaborator with artists including his old Arab Strap partner Malcolm Middleton and jazz composer Bill Wells, has found perfect partners in Hubbert and Wilson.
His duet with the latter on the opening 'Cockrow' ('you're just another man' / 'you're just another wife') adds a feminine balance to Moffat's usual sense of overwhelming dismay at his own masculinity, and Hubbert's playing really opens up the sensitive heart to his lyrics. 'Mz Locum''s shantyish opening 'I tried it on / we both got off / then she went back to her man' is a swaggering wrong-foot which fortunately doesn't sum up the rest of the album, from the universe-pondering beauty of 'Quantum Theory Love Song' to the eerie, saxophone-laden 'Wolves of the Wood' and the languid, samba-drumming squall of 'Party On' (Moffat and Wilson's chorus of 'we are here / we are now / so let's stop talking' is particularly charming).
Moffat, of course, is as much spoken word artist as singer and as much storyteller as lyricist, and his words evoke a sense of character and place alongside his way with a pop hook. This record creates an evocative amusement arcade fortune telling on 'Zoltar Speaks' and bears a liberal share of resonant lines ('Fringe''s 'what's a shooting star, anyway? / It's just a burning boulder' chimes hard), but it's the perfect balance of these words with Hubbert's evocative compositions which place it alongside the best of his work with Middleton or Wells.
Out on Rock Action, Fri 11 May. They play St Luke's, Glasgow, Thu 17 May and touring.