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Vic Chesnutt – Silver Lake

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 11: BMV #11 (3-For-$10 #3) Vic Chesnutt – Silver Lake

I love Vic Chesnutt records. If I had to describe him work in one word, I’d say ‘real.’ He tells it like it is, and everything he does just soars and retains its humanity through humour, pain, anger, confusion, whatever else he imbues into his songs. 

Chesnutt spent his life since a 1983 car accident in a wheelchair with limited use of his hands. Yet he made 17 albums (two were produced by Michael Stipe), made many appearances and duets, and achieved acclaim. His songs were covered on the 1996 compilation Sweet Relief II: Gravity Of The Situation (proceeds to the Sweet Relief fund), and he even had a role in Sling Blade. “His musical style has been described by Bryan Carroll of as a “skewed, refracted version of Americana that is haunting, funny, poignant, and occasionally mystical, usually all at once”.

As for this 2003 album, simply put, it’s song after song of great storytelling and riveting songs. Even tracks like Girls Say, which I found a bit hard to listen to because it’s not too nice to the ladies, still comes from an honest place somewhere in his own experience. I found this blurb on Amazon and it says a bunch:

Count on two things: Vic Chesnutt will approach any topic, from the delicate to the mundane, from an unexpected angle. And with an incisive eye and razor wit, he will always cut straight to the heart of the matter. He does so to great effect on Silver Lake, giving equal weight to the tender affirmation of “In My Way, Yes” and the scathing self-critique of “Styrofoam,” and applying his delightfully odd spin to the standard love story on both “Band Camp” (a funny, nostalgic tale of romance in the high school horn section) and the Brian Wilson homage “Fa-La-La” (a saga of unanswered longing that’s set in a hospital). Chesnutt’s idiosyncratic quaver and nylon-string strum are abetted throughout by generous rock and soul arrangements, all of which were pristinely recorded by Daniel Lanois protege Mark Howard (who also produced Lucinda Williams’s World Without Tears). Top to bottom, this may be Chesnutt’s best effort since his 1996 disc About to Choke. –Anders Smith Lindall

Chesnutt died in 2009, and the music world lost a genuine light. I can’t recommend this album enough.

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