Vic Chesnutt - At The Cut
Everyone knows the story by now. In 1982, when he was just eighteen years old, Vic Chesnutt was injured in a car accident and confined to a wheelchair. During his recovery he discovered he was still able to play his guitar and began playing live and recording his music. In 1990 Vic was discovered by Michael Stipe whilst playing in Georgia. Taking him under his wing Stipe produced his first two albums and set Vic on the road he’s been travelling ever since. It’s been a long and winding road to reach where we are now: album number fourteen, At The Cut.
It’s not always the best idea to start off with your best tune, but that’s what Vic does on the oh-so-dark ‘Coward’, opening with a tender backing and hushed vocals but soon building to a raw, intense climax. (You may have heard it before as it was used on the soundtrack to Jem Cohen’s film Empires of Tin, which Vic played live alongside at the Vienna Film Festival in 2007.)
What follows are nine beautifully crafted yet melancholy songs, delivered like a cross between Bob Dylan and Bill Callahan, with a foot firmly in the shadows. ‘Concord Country Jubilee’ twangs along nicely, doing just what it says on the tin. ‘Flirted With You All My Life’ has Vic’s raspy, emotion-laden tones juxtaposing against his uplifting calypso guitar work. It’s rousing stuff.
At The Cut starts as it ends: with excellence. ‘Granny’ sets just man and guitar against the world. Its simplicity is the key to success, such honesty and affection will melt the hardest of hearts. It also manages to reset the cosmic order of songs about grandparents that was sent spiralling into disarray in 1980 by St Winifred's School Choir, for which it receives a bonus point.