When a record starts off with a track that sounds not a million miles away from Eternal Life by Jeff Buckley, you know you’re probably onto a good thing. The song in question, We Radioed, is actually an instrumental number, filling in Buckley’s soaring and swooping vocals with a series of cleverly arranged guitar parts. It segues beautifully into current BBC 6 Music favourite, Car Song, which features the vocal talents of one Aidan Moffat; breathing a barely sung baritone whisper over the somehow lush single guitar. The simple spoken word style of the vocals calls to mind legendary Glasgow electro-pop-acoustic-folksters Looper. Never a bad thing.
Thirteen… is Hubby’s second album following on from 2010’s self-released First & Last. Glasgow label Chemikal Underground subsequently picked it up and released it to a wider audience, saying: We may not be right about everything but we’re never wrong about music – check it out and enhance your life immeasurably.
Whilst that’s quite a recommendation to live up to, this latest offering more than manages the task. For Joe is a simple guitar soundscape, akin to James Yorkston’s early meanderings which rolls beautifully into Gus am Bris an Latha (Until the Day Breaks) featuring John Ferguson. Thirteen Lost & Found was conceived by Hubbert as a way of reacquainting himself with old friends while, he says, making some new ones. Each piece was written collaboratively with the respective artists with an emphasis on experimentation and spontaneity.
Former Delgado Emma Pollock pops up on half light bringing a Polly Harvey meets Portishead vibe to things whilst a plaintive violin cries behind her. It’s almost unsettlingly stark but beautiful nonetheless.
The result is a masterpiece – a suite of music which soars and swoons, speaking without lyrics of sadness, happiness, bad times and better ones to come. This isn’t music to drive to or go running with. It’s an album to wash over you, to come to you in the wee small hours and take your mind to far flung places. As the Chemikal folks said last time round, check it out and enhance your life immeasurably.
Review by Bryan Gregg