Vic Chesnutt – At The Cut

There’s a song on this record that leaves me a little cold.   The track ‘Flirted With You All My Life’ is about death and ultimately how the author is not ready for it.  The lyrics “You’re always right there with me, I flirted with you all my life, even kissed you once or twice” have been staring back at me for the last hour or so.  I really am struggling to understand what happened.  These words just don’t make sense to me given Vic Chesnutt’s recent suicide.  It’s a very, very sad story.  For somebody who had overcome so much in his life and was so respected and loved as a musician.  I cannot even imagine how difficult life was for him and the demons he harboured to have committed suicide.  I hope he is at peace now. 

This record has without doubt the most serious tone of all his records I own.  Death seems to underpin much of the record.  Whether it be the thought or constant struggle with inner demons or the death of loved ones, it is there throughout the album.   And it’s not just in the words either.  The music goes from the most fragile moments to real snarling guitar attacks and back again.  It really feels just like those moments of inner torment we all experience.  You know that feeling you get when you wake up from a really vivid nightmare?  That unmistakeable and horrible feeling of panic and dread.  You are calm in your sleeping state, then you wake in a cold sweat before you realise that it was just a dream and a calmness falls over you again.  That amazing sense of relief.  This record feels like that to me.  It feels like a man dealing with pain and suffering and self loathing.   However, a man who does seem ultimately at peace with his demons adding to the sense of tragedy.  

Please don’t be put off by what I’ve just written though.  This really is a very enjoyable piece of music, made all the more fascinating by the tragic loss of this wonderful song writer on Christmas Day 2009.  Please, if you can check out his music do.  He was a wonderfully intelligent lyricist and song writer.  Though this album lacks the humour of previous outings it still highlights his wonderful use of the English language and his wonderful arrangement of songs.  Great stuff.  Do check him out here.  Enjoy.

TSP Grade =B+