Monday, May 19, 2008

Vic Chesnutt - "North Star Deserter" CD

I was never very familiar with Chesnutt's highly-regarded back catalogue, but this new release on Canadian label Constellation is a superb collection of darkly introspective and atmospheric folk tunes, with musical contributions from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra and associates. Everything here is moody and literate, highlighted by the epic 'Debriefing', which begins as a textural collection of radio transmissions and 'found' sounds that erupt into a powerful and driving noise-infested rock song that further frames Chesnutt's desperately poetic words. 'You Are Never Alone' is another memorable cut, detailing a world-weary but uplifting set of circumstances that one can ordeal, with a lovely chorus of 'keep on keepin' on'. I can't help but think that this is precisely what A Silver Mt. Zion needs, a vocalist/songwriter who can express with great feeling the sorrow and fragility of life in this world, but with a finely-tuned spiritual side that doesn't drag down, but inspires. Chesnutt is awesome here, gelling his rootsy and personal words with the group's sometimes minimalist, othertimes percussive and overloaded post-folk noise. Transcendent and beautiful work. (Constellation)

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