New from Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert

I hadn’t intended for it to turn into a two week holiday from the blog, but hopefully it encouraged people to read the interviews with Richard Thompson and Miles Hunt (still really, really chuffed about those). Anyway, while I was away, amongst the emails that popeed into my inbox was this wee beauty.

I’ve long talked about my love of all things Scottish and cover versions, and of course Christmas, so it’s rather cool to have AIdan Moffat and RM Hubbert collaborating on a cover version of Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ from their forthcoming Christmas album (out on Mogwai’s Rock Action label) entitled Ghost Stories For Christmas. One of the the impressive things is how this starts out sounding lo-fi, then the backing vocals come in and the strings are just gorgeous.

This is the first tasting from the album, the tracklisting for which is:

1. Fireside
2. A Ghost Story for Christmas
3. Desire Path (Baby Please Come Home)

4. Such Shall You Be
5. Lonely This Christmas
6. Weihnachtsstimmung
7. The Fir Tree
8. Only You
9. Ode to Plastic Mistletoe
10. The Recurrence of Dickens


Whilst I’m looking forward to hearing the whole album, I am intrigued (because I think it’s a great Christmas song) that the other cover version on the album is Mud’s Lonely This Christmas (in its original form, one of the greatest Elvis pastiches ever.

In fact, the whole album sounds intriguing. Take it away, press release:

These are the ghosts of love, haunting happy homes and fairy-lit bars; these are the ghosts of memory, of haunted mirrors, pagan festivities, and unforgettable friends. As with this year’s critically acclaimed debut album, Here Lies The Body, Moffat’s quiet, pensive storytelling finds a perfect partner in Hubbert’s intimately intricate, flamenco-flavoured guitar. Across eight new original compositions and two deftly executed covers, here they offer an alternative view on the Season To Be Jolly.

The album began with an idea for a song – forthcoming single A Ghost Story for Christmas. Originally intended as a one-off, seasonal release, it proved such fun to write that soon they had enough songs for an EP. “Then, on a nice, sunny, summer morning, I phoned Hubby and suggested we just do a whole album,” says Moffat. “We were really enjoying it – there’s something pleasantly perverse about recording Christmas songs in summer clothes – so we just kept going.” There followed an intense few weeks of writing and research, with Moffat taking lyrical inspiration as always from the life around him, but which also found him adapting a classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale and an essay by the king of modern Christmas himself, Charles Dickens. The album also features their cover of Yazoo’s synth classic Only You – a favourite from their youth and one of Moffat’s oft-tweeted late-night comfort hits, and already a popular number in their live show (and, of course, a Christmas Number One for The Flying Pickets in 1983) – and the set was topped off with a sombre rendition of Mud’s 1974 hit, Lonely This Christmas. “There really wasn’t any other song it could have been,” Hubbert says of this choice. “It sums up the album well!”

The album also finds the duo expanding and experimenting with their sound, with eerie bowed guitars, dreamscape doo-wop, and a piano-led tale of a looking-glass ghost. “I had some words that I felt would suit a piano backing, so I challenged Hubby to write something for piano and he spent two weeks on YouTube learning to play it,” says Moffat. Joining them for the first time on violin and vocals is Jenny Reeve, a long-time Moffat collaborator, most recently with Arab Strap and his Where You’re Meant To Be project; ex-Delgado and longtime friend of the duo Emma Pollock on choral duties; and the band’s live drummer, David Jeans, also of Arab Strap and many more. Returning to augment the sound is John Burgess on clarinet and flute, while a young family member waits to offer a final seasonal message …

So come close and gather round! Pour a drink and take a seat! The fire is roaring, the chestnuts are roasting, the children are laughing – and it’s time to tell Ghost Stories for Christmas.”

Hell yeah.

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