Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Ghost Stories for Christmas (4 stars)

Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Ghost Stories for Christmas

Haunting and warm reflections from Glasgow's hirsute pop heartbreakers

Step aside, Santa: there's a new pair of bearded festive harbingers in town. Glasgow's hirsute pop heartbreakers Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert have followed up this summer's terrific Here Lies The Body LP with a seasonal sack-load of fireside carols and melancholy yuletide thrills.

Ghost Stories for Christmas was originally intended as a one-off (bleak) midwinter single, but its sublime – and quietly menacing – title track ('you better watch out. And you better not cry') became the gift that kept on giving. Nylon-strung axe-master Hubbert and vocalist / storyteller Moffat had such a ball in the studio that they wrote and recorded not a single song, but a brand new album, replete with a cast of old friends and familiar voices – and Hubbert's gilded piano debut. (He learned the instrument in a fortnight, via YouTube, at Moffat's behest). A Christmas miracle, indeed.

The duo's haunting, warm reflections on memory, (lost) love, time passing and kindness are bedecked with the charms of Emma Pollock (choral duties), David Jeans (percussion), John Burgess (flute / clarinet) and Jenny Reeve, who's typically stunning on vocals and violin. Mud and Yazoo (via the Flying Pickets) have a look-in too: Moffat and Hubbert's take on the latter's 'Only You' has become a live favourite, while their mourning rendition of the former's 1974 hit, 'Lonely This Christmas', was, suggests RM Hubbert, a given. 'There wasn't really any other song it could have been,' he says. 'It sums up the album well.'

There are sleigh bells, there's family harmony, there's a moment of unbridled joy as gorgeous swansong 'The Recurrence of Dickens' gives way to the greatest rendition of 'Jingle Bells' I've ever heard – courtesy of a young team who knock The St Winifred's School Choir into a cocked (Santa) hat. Moffat, Hubbert, offspring, ghosts: making spirits bright. Kick back with their glorious and sleighing songs tonight.

Out Fri 7 Dec on Rock Action.

Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert

Scottish indie-folk power duo Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert perform tracks off their new album, Here Lies The Body.

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