by carl wilson

5. Vic Chesnutt - Silver Lake

It's a testimony to how fantastic most of this album is that it holds this position despite the presence of "Girls Say," among the worst songs Chesnutt has ever written, and the way over-extended one-joke number "Sultan, So Mighty" (it's about a eunuch and it is more than eight minutes long; that's what it says next to the word "tiresome" in the dictionary). I know there are some huge Salesman and Bernadette fans out there, but for me this is the most satisfying Vic disc since About to Choke. No half-assed arrangements. No nonsense poetry that doesn't seem to have a purpose. No distraction, no restraint.

Instead, it is just a well-produced prism showing off all the facets of this Athens, Georgia-based marvel's native genius: his abstraction, his humour, his acerbic interpersonal critique (in track 1, "I'm Through," he claims "I am not Emily Post/ You know I'm nowhere near that precise," which is delightful for how exactly untrue it is), his effortlessly beautiful melodies, his effortful imperfect ethics, his Southern barstool-novelist storyteller's gifts, and his ability to hit emotional soft spots line after line after line. The final track, "In My Way, Yes" - the title is his answer to the question "do you think you deserve it?" - shows him in a new mode, struggling to claim the hopefulness his ordeals have earned, and it's not only one of the most beautiful things he's ever written, but one of the most beautiful things anybody's written in ages. Plus, there ought to be some special Grammy category for the verse in "Band Camp" that involves the vodka-soaked tampon in second-period science lab.

And of course he makes it sound as easy as falling out of a wheelchair, the way he looks he has on the front cover. Which when you think of it, can't be so easy.

On Record | Posted by zoilus on Saturday, January 10 at 1:29 AM | Linking Posts

 

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Zoilus by Carl Wilson