This takes some of the joy off my planned trip to the US in July. Having spent the last five-odd years wishing that American indie star, Vic Chesnutt, would tour this country, I discover that he is going to be here while I’m away.
Anyway, if you don’t know his work, my advice would be to buy the following three albums (for starters) and then try and get yourself along to one of his rather limited range of dates.
The Salesman and Bernadette
This album is simply one of my favourites by anyone and neatly showcases the sort of idiosynchratic approach Vic takes his art. The songs are quirky without being stupid and are lent an air of wistfulness and otherworldliness by the orchestrations of the unique Nashville band, Lambchop. The opening track is a beautiful ballad with affecting sound effects tastefully intersperesed. Then there is ‘Until the Led’, an inspired take on the ‘Fatal Attraction’ theme (I must have been one of history’s stupidest men/’cause everything was perfect in my head/until the lead started hitting me). We get the sheet beauty of ‘Woodrow Wilson’ and the deep darkness of ‘Square Room.’ Great Album.
Is the Actor Happy?
I’d try this one next, an earlier Chesnutt album that will introduce to his usual, spare, minimalist (cheap) recording style. This review just about gets it right: “Chesnutt’s trademark nylon string guitars are washed in reverb, giving the album a lush, liquid feel. The arrangements are more carefully conceived than his prior releases, but come off no less spontaneous. It stands at about the midway point in his recorded output, a bridge between the rawness of his earlier recordings and the layered production of his later work.”
This is a much more mature album, and it benefits greatly from the production and participation of jazz guitar legend, Bill Frisell. Not that it doesn’t envince the usual Chesnutt idiosynchracies, it’s just that it does it all with much higher production values than his album usual stretch to. The songs are great, but in the span of his career it is worth hearing just to hear what he can do when someone is willing to spend some money on the process.
Anyway, that’s the briefest of introductions. I’d be genuinely interested to hear what you think if you get along to any of his shows. He is a notoriously prickly performer, from all accounts, but I can’t imagine the show being anything other than memorable. He is also touring with Victoria Williams. Not terribly familiar with her work, but having someone else on stage with him sharing the bill might see him on his best behaviour.
Click the link above for the dates, or use the Cluster Link below for more info: And here’s a track to give you some idea of what you would be getting (pretty limited range of his stuff available for embed):