For the last 20 years, Aidan Moffat has made an art form of cajoling emotion. Whether it’s creating a Highland sense of comfort, an inebriated menace or scything stories with caustic wit, his spoken word delivery has always found a perfect balance between the melodic and melancholic – and it’s no different on ‘Here Lies the Body’.
As always, the guitar and voice are the heart of the record with Moffat’s grizzled words artfully interlacing revealing monologues, deadpan deliveries and dramatic soliloquies with a gruff ease around the delicate, spidery guitar work of RM Hubbert.
On the tender woodwind of ‘Quantam Theory Love Song’, Moffat might posit sweet thoughts like “let’s stare at the stars and see what we want to see” but on ‘Keening for a Dead Love’, his voice hangs heavy over a slow, sombre procession of strings and piano. And while his low burr reverberates through the theatrical campfire tale of ‘Wolves of the Wood’, it’s ‘Mz. Locum’ that has Moffat at his funny and forlorn best as he nails heart-on-sleeve unrequitedness (“without her I live, but less so”) with a nod and a wink (“she’s a bombshell in leggings / A goddess in jeggings / But she’s best when they’re all on the floor”).
The result is a set of songs that come to life with a storied, bright-eyed wisdom, but no single track captures the Moffat dichotomy quite like ‘Party On’. Set against the backdrop of a samba carnival drum line, you’d think he’s switched Falkirk for Fortaleza. He hasn’t, but it’s unexpected moments like this that continue to make his work a national treasure.