RM Hubbert can seemingly do no wrong. After the excellent Ampersand trilogy, containing First & Last, SAY award winner Thirteen Lost & Found and last year’s Breaks & Bones, Chemikal Underground release Ampersand Extras, a collection of eleven outtakes over the course of the trilogy. Albums of B-sides and extras should be approached with caution, often, although certainly not always, being a second rate release of material that was scrapped for a reason. In recent interviews, however, Hubby has been keen to point out that these tracks were, for the most part, removed because they didn’t fit in the context of the albums. Somehow this collection of works spanning from the last four years comes together to make a surprisingly cohesive album which is as essential as the trilogy.
Solo tracks Canine Shaped Frogs, Sticky Pine and Fucks Sake D Sit Nice are as beautiful playing and writing as anything Hubby has ever done, with his trademark flamenco technique to play acoustic music that sits far from flamenco. Hanging pointers is the perfect hungover antidote to For Helen, taking the same themes in a slower and more morose style. What made Thirteen Lost & Found the success it was was due, in part, to the wide range of brilliant collaborations. The collaborations on Extras are just as intriguing, from Alan Bissett’s passionate spoken word to Esperi’s Cajon. The real gems here come from the stunningly atmospheric Elliot, with Luke Sutherland (below), and Mo Ve’lla Bella Mia De La Muntagna, which acts as the perfect album closer.
Buy the album from Chemikal if not in your local store and see Hubby’s intimate live show at The Lexington on November 30th.