Part of Celtic Connections
Tonight, a packed, sweaty room becomes an almost uncomfortably intimate space for RM Hubbert to share his shattering words and incredible music. His guitar playing is gorgeous, full of scalpel-like precision from the darkest places in his psyche. It’s quite something when a rammed room can be silenced by the delicate tentative waltz of For Joe, nothing less than remarkable that the crowd hang on his every word.Not for no good reason has he got the nickname Hubby.The Dog and Jumphang from debut First &Last are complex, textured tunes which are as influenced by punk’s rougher edges as flamenco and folk, and Bolt and Son of Princess,Brother of Rambo from Breaks & Bone has as many stabs as tender strokes.
New album Telling the Trees sees Hubby teaming up with Karine Polwart and Kathryn Joseph among others, and his version of Probably Will/Probably Do may be sung tonight without another contributor, Sarah J Stanley from HQFU, but it’s no less powerful for it-Hubby’s voice is warm, vulnerable and breathy, as though he’s telling you the secrets that can only be divulged by a best friend, or a loved one.
Banter between songs teeters precariously between despair and almost stand-up comedy:Hubby is as witty as he is virtuosic a player. He has suffered so much loss and pain in his young life, and confesses he was thinking of packing in the music industry, but, as he adds, voicing these anxieties ‘dilutes their power. Just saying it out loud is good’. The audience concur, shouting ‘WE LOVE YOU’, before he quips, ‘You’ll not be saying that at two in the morning, when I call you up!’ Highs and lows have rarely been so affecting- that’s why we need him more than ever. And at least he didn’t play fucking Wonderwall.
Telling The Trees is out now on Chemikal Underground