You are never sure, musically, which Vic Chesnutt is going to turn up. Recent albums have been excellent in places but not always consistent. 'At the Cut' once again asks the question - How is it that this artist is not better known? Lyrically sharp and clever as ever, the songs are strong and deliver the powerful emotions it evokes. Sparse arrangements with piano, acoustic guitar and brushed drums to rock-outs and warped guitar, it has a bit of everything you expect from a Vic Chesnutt album.
`Coward', the opener, is savage, building up to the powerful crescendo, Chesnutt crying out, `I am a coward' over a backdrop of fuzzed guitar and orchestra. `Chain', a hushed song, with bar room piano, shows off Chesnutt's clever word play `...anecdotal evidence, synergized with common sense, collective carnal consciousness, strains the bulging silt fences...'. `Phillip Guston', a rock-out builds up on a two note riff, with repeated refrains sung from Chesnutt. `Flirted with you all my life' (Death) evokes, one feels, an autobiographical note for Chesnutt - however, I am no psychologist, so I'm probably wrong. Finally, `It is what it is', morphs from a slow inconsequential ballad into an outpouring of emotion, feelings and beliefs over violin and backing band. Superb!
Other tracks on the album are juxtaposed perfectly, and demand repeated listens to pick up on the excellent lyrics and subtle arrangements.
`At the Cut' sits alongside the very best of Chesnutt's work, (`Is the Actor Happy', `About to Choke') and lyrically Chesnutt has rarely been on finer form. This is an album which deserves wider attention than it will doubtless receive, and should be in the end of year lists of great albums in 2009, which, again it might not. Luckily, for Chesnutt fans, this is immaterial, for it is the music which counts, and here, he is up there with the best.