Vic Chesnutt - North Star Deserter [Constellation Records - 2007]North Star Deserter is a lyrically sharpe and clever collection of memorable singer/songwriter songs, that go from folky to country strum to rocking bass led & string lined to the more experimental edges, but never moving too far away from there song base.
Chesnutt has been making wordy often autobiographical albums since the early 1990’s. In his voice you can hear traces of Dylan, early Tom Waits, Lou Reed at his more wordy or down on his luck Tom Petty. But Chesnutt voice has its own distinctive lost and timeworn flavour, with song lyrics high with tragedy, pain and social commentary. His song craft though conventional, often veers off in interesting tangents, as he throws in surprising but workable musical combinations. A few of my favourite moments come in the form of; You are never alone with it’s tuneful melancholy strolling country cum surf guitar with bass underpinnings, with Vic's dryly talking/ singing over the top life’s contradictions- big & small, before building to a layered rough ‘n’ Ready show tune male and female chorus. The opener Warm with it’s slow unfolding guitar picking and strum, that feels like a slowed to crawl cousin of Stand by me, as Chesnutt wearily and worldly inturns about cancer.
A very honest and real album laced with clever, cynical and life tired lyrics over memorable and inventive song craft. Certainly one of this year singer songwriter highlights.Roger Batty