Vic Chesnutt, who died of an overdose in 2009, was one of the best and most unusual songwriters of his generation. Country-rock veterans Cowboy Junkies are far more conventional. So Chesnutt diehards might not find much to like in this collection of his songs, but the album may provide newcomers a bridge to his work.
fashionable for 21st-century blues guitarists to blow you away with
fretboard pyrotechnics. But Dave Specter harkens to the previous
century, when players like Steve Cropper and B. B. King moved listeners
with a handful of heartfelt notes. The horns, smoky organ and sublime
guitar on "Stick to the Hip" suggest Booker T.
Himmelman's gifts for melody, lyrical poignancy and spiritual depth are
rare among singer-songwriters. He can also rock: "Motel Room in
Davenport" chugs like a freight train, while "Good Luck Charm" mixes
white-boy rapping and an anvil-heavy beat into a solid groove.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story. A mother carries her tiny daughter With her as she gets ashed and the Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms Into the path of the priest’s thumb Just as the finger is about to arrive On the mother’s forehead, and the Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye. She starts to cry, and there’s a split Second as the priest and the mother Gawk, and then they both burst out Laughing. The kid is too little to be Offended, and the line moves along, But this stays with me; not the ashy Eye as much as the instant when all Could have been pain and awkward But instead it led to mutual giggling. We are born of dust and star-scatter And unto this we shall return, this is The Law, but meantime, by God, we Can laugh our asses off. What a gift, You know? Let us snicker while we Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use That which makes dark things quail.