Vic Chesnutt


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On his third, and maybe most conceptually complete, album, Vic Chesnutt emerges as that rare kind of artist who can see right into the living room of small-town America. Drunk opens with one of Chesnutt's more overtly hook-oriented songs, the punchy "Sleeping Man," which also appears later in the album as a slightly twangier reprise, and is a fine commentary on the insatiable hunger for human spectacle that plagues American culture. "One of Many" is a bleak tale of murder and execution that finds Chesnutt truly at the top of his game lyrically and melodically. A fine example of Chesnutt's songcraft is the plaintive narrative "When I Ran Off and Left Her," which is indicative of his style in that its laid-back delivery masks a certain amount of tension and paranoia. A consistent theme on Drunk, as well as in Chesnutt's other work, is transition -- whether escaping or just moving -- to someplace else. Very few artists can communicate these kinds of themes as eloquently and as uniquely as Chesnutt, and Drunk is a fine example of how he can turn seemingly self-absorbed songs into something strangely universal. The distorted, guttural title cut and the bouncy "Super Tuesday" offer further proof of Chesnutt's impressive ability to evoke different moods. In the end, it is probably that ability which makes his genius the most readily apparent.

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