NORTH STAR DESERTER
Vic Chesnutt is a star.I once saw him open for the Cowboy Junkies where he got his band to all swap instruments for the evening, making songs deliberate and slower, treading a wary step, adding to the vulnerability of the tales. Vic is a little guy, singing songs that bring out the painful steps of day to day life, with a nice line in self deprecation.
I wouldn't want you to get the impression that this is just a quiet, sensitive album. The skin is raw to the touch, yes, but songs like 'Everything I Say' ride up to a fury of electric guitar and bluster. The band is a huge assemblage with all of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra included - being a kind of Godspeed You Black Emperor outfit. Other songs, like 'Wallace Stevens', are gentler, acoustic walks, almost stumbling as they walk through, for want of a better word, Vic's poems. The songs, as they are delivered, have a directness of emotion that befits poetry. 'You Are Never Alone' lists all the medications that keep us from the consequences of how we live our lives - we are protected and cossetted today, he hints as he whispers in your ear. 'Splendid' shimmers with gently fingered distorted guitar as Vic paints a picture of a day in the country, that change of focus that revitalises as we notice things we don't normally. 'Rustic City Fathers' hits a new record for wandering slowness and, were you letting the record drift past it would function merely as gorgeous background music. Pay attention though and you get an insight into Vic's mind, unfiltered by self-conciousness. 'Over' is a meditation on immanence and impermanence. Debriefing sees wailing electric guitar of the sort Neil Young favours when he's being thoughtful whilst growing his sideburns (think of the soundtrack to the Johnny Depp movie, Deadman). After the subtle moods of 'Marathon' there is a cute sign-off ('Rattle') which is recorded so close up that it's in your face.
A subtle, personal and involving record from the sort of artist we should be supporting, one ploughing his own furrow, remote from fashion.