Prolific Glaswegian guitarist RM Hubbert’s recent output comes with a massive pedigree. His last album Thirteen Lost & Found beat acts as renowned as Django Django and Lau to the coveted Scottish Album of The Year award. Among the luminaries queuing up to work with him are Alasdair Roberts, Alex Kapranos and Aiden Moffat, and he has toured with acts as diverse and critically acclaimed as Tortoise, Mogwai, Nick Cave and King Creosote.
Always a fantastic musician, Breaks & Bone – the final instalment in a trilogy that also includes First & Last and Thirteen Lost & Found – sees Hubbert get back to basics and put his instrument first. Indeed half of the tracks here are instrumental – ostensibly simple acoustic guitar workouts that add impeccable melodic sensibility to the well-honed, flamenco-inflected style he toyed in his previous work with John Peel favourites El Hombre Trajeado. Hubbert the solo artist is a simpler beast though, dispensing almost entirely with the math rock and post rock stylings of his former band in favour of much looser soundscapes.
When he does sing – as in the downbeat, lived-in Feedback Loops – the vocals manage to remain unobtrusive without losing anything of their distinctly Scottish character. The lovely closer Slights tells a bittersweet tale full of pregnant pauses.
Where Hubbert really flourishes though is in the instrumentals. None of these are merely pleasant incidental music – each piece has its own distinctive flavour. Buckstacy, with its modest percussive backbone, has the easy kinetic force of, say, Roy Harper’s guitar work, but is more melodic, more concise and jauntier. Son of Princess, Brother of Rambo plays with classical influences. Elsewhere elements of pop, baroque, folk and blues come in and out of focus without ever sacrificing the overall coherence or the almost punkish brevity and simplicity of some of the compositions.
Hubbert has assembled a beautiful and often melancholic album. It demands to be listened to in its entirety and acts as a perfect denouement to a fascinating series of records.
Review by: Thomas Blake
Saturday 9th November 2013
Vortex Jazz Club, London
Solo show. Alexis Taylor is also performing.
Sunday 10th November 2013
Vortex Jazz Club, London
Solo show. Jack Cheshire is also performing.
Sunday 17th November 2013
Crossing Border Festival, Antwerp
Tuesday 28th January 2014
Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Solo show supporting Mogwai as part of Celtic Connections.
Breaks & Bone is released via Chemikal Underground 30 Sept 2013