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At The Cut [Import]

Vic Chesnutt Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 12.12 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Audio CD (21 Sep 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Constellation
  • ASIN: B002I8QYE8
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,829 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Coward
2. When the Bottom Fell Out
3. Chinaberry Tree
4. Chain
5. We Hovered With Short Wings
6. Philip Guston
7. Concord Country Jubilee
8. Flirted With Youall My Life
9. It Is What It Is
10. Granny

Product Description

BBC Review

For a man who recently described his relationship with America as being one centred around the love/hate axis with a bit of Stockholm syndrome thrown in, Vic Chesnutt seems in no hurry to give up on his continual, arresting grapple with these themes on this, the 13th album of his career. At the Cut sees Vic engaging in head-on battles with alienation, isolation and human failings of the body and heart, though before a more abrasive, less folksy backdrop than previous offerings.

Those soporific elements, however thickly laced with unsettlement, are prefixed barely a minute into the opening track Coward. Here, the atmosphere, brooding and intense, swirls, lilts, fades and then erupts into savage stings of violence. A typically cantankerous lyrical stab at notions of the true nature of heroism (“submissive dogs can lash out in fear”), Chesnutt’s voice transcends from a whispering lone woodsman to an almost banshee-esque wail of malevolence. The listening experience is akin to sitting in a collapsing wood cabin in the wilderness of Chesnutt’s home state of Georgia as a humdinger of a storm crashes into its heavy oak door, then retreats, unidentified, into the night.

Lyrical adroitness is one of Chesnutt’s trademarks and perhaps goes some way to explaining how he has previously managed to work with the likes of Michael Stipe, Jonathan Richman and Kurt Wagner of Lambchop. On the more harmonic tracks that make up the latter part of the album, none are more laced with Chesnutt’s uneasy realisation of mortality than Flirted with You All My Life: organs and guitars groan and flutter with a country twang while Chesnutt implores, “Death, I’m not ready / o’ death you hector me”.

Penultimate track It Is What It Is perhaps comes closest to an expression of Chesnutt at his most engrossing and wilfully verbose. Violins that seem to have been found in the mothballed loft of a Carson McCullers vignette of yore swoon behind Chesnutt’s aggravated yet woozy proclamations of how he can be “syruply optimistic one moment / and then gravely pessimistic the next”.

As pretty as a Sunday drive along the B-roads of the American south in places, the sunshine never lasts long in Chesnutt’s world. At the Cut sees him in typically torn, perplexed and wonderfully articulate form. --Robert Crossan

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
When I heard about his suicide I could not stop thinking about Vic Chestnutt. Again and again I played the seven albums I owned and ordered those I didn't. No other artist has dug so deep. No one else has hit the mark so often and with such wit and strident honesty.

At the Cut is Vic Chestnutt's second to last album and the peak of his long discography. It is a tough listen and a cathartic letting go. It's more than right that musicians from GSYBE / A Silver Mount Zion are there alongside him.

It draws on some of his other records - the stark vulnerability and live feel of Lost in Rome, the uplift of Ghetto Bells, the sometimes abrasive tones of North Star Deserter. Interestingly there is none of the playfulness of Dark Developments.

The first track `Coward' opens with a haunting Godspeed-esque lament and transitions into a full frontal assault, a dramatic, self-accusatory wail. It's exhausting, gut wrenching and beautiful.

`When the bottom fell out' steps into the yawning space that follows `Coward', a poem with a guitar. When the dog barks in the background it feels like the end of the world. Introspective poetry is also the hallmark of `Chain' and `We hovered with short wings' whilst `Chinaberry Tree' and `Philip Guston' have more of a full band, rock guitar sound.

`Concord Country' is something of a welcome easy-going break, a prelude to the album's most poignant track `Flirted with you all my life'. It starts with a high hat and death march bass drum and Vic sings "I am a man and I am self aware" and the words that follow are just so stripped and close to the heart that I feel the need to talk to him, if only the chance were on offer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literate Magic 26 Oct 2009
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a good possesion to hold 6 Jan 2013
By Tink
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
lovely packaging, and if your a vic chesnutt fan you cant go wrong, some of the best- i flirted with you all my life and granny. really worthy cd to own in the physical form rather than a download.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars vaurien 19 Mar 2010
Format:Audio CD
I was interested about Vic Chesnutt music and life..This cd was very impressive for me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar and unique, but difficult 17 Nov 2009
By Garbageman - Published on
Format:Audio CD
This is a guy I haven't been following very closely, but I recall some older albums of his. I don't really remember the way it sounded then - for some reason Nashville folk-guy Tom House comes to mind - and there are obvious comparisons to Bone Machine-era Tom Waits. But this stuff doesn't really sound like anything I've heard - those are just starting points. You pretty much have to abandon your expectations here if you're new to this. Also, there are obviously going to be people who are new to this guy because of his kinship with Guy of Fugazi, but they'll be fooling themselves if they expect anything close to that band here either. Or any other Dischord-related projects for that matter.

This is one of those albums that needs to be digested as a unit - an entire project - and reflected on - and I have to admit, it's hard to picture myself listening to it again shortly after one play. It just has a deep, scraping darkness to it that isn't very endearing - it's almost as if the songs are MEANT to disturb you - but not in a cartoonish, Tom Waits-y way, much more direct, much more ambivalent about how you feel - as if you weren't really meant to hear these songs. I understand that's not a very glowing endorsement of the sounds here, but that's how it hits you at first. Which is good, if you like to be taken out of your comfort zone.

After a while, you get used to the abrasiveness, sort of embrace the claustrophobic qualities, when all of a sudden it opens up like a landscape in front of you - a very relieving and powerful drama - with the songs "Flirted With You All My Life" and "It Is What It Is" - two back-to-back excellent tracks, ruminations on simple things that don't usually get said but somehow seem very natural and exciting put to music like this. That's when it all really makes sense. The moment you "get" this album, it doesn't strike you as anything too important, but it somehow feels important all the same. This unusual duality - thundering moments combined with a solitude inside - make for a hard listen, but it's pretty rewarding.
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VIC CHESNUTT: REST IN PEACE 26 Dec 2009
By Gengler - Published on
Format:Audio CD
This disc is a tough listen. If you think "Flirted with you all my life" was tough to listen to before today......Chesnutt was quoted as saying that this was his "Screw you, death" song. The song that was his final break up with the suicide attempts of the past. If only that were the case.

Chesnutt was a talented, tormented man. With his death, he becomes a national symbol of the health care crisis. In a recent interview printed in the LA TImes he contemplated the challenges he faced as a wheelchair-using paraplegic with inadequate health insurance and mounting medical bills.

"I'm not too eloquent talking about these things," Chesnutt told The Times earlier this month. "I was making payments, but I can't anymore and I really have no idea what I'm going to do. It seems absurd they can charge this much. When I think about all this, it gets me so furious. I could die tomorrow because of other operations I need that I can't afford."

Unfortunately, Chesnutt's "tomorrow" came on Christmas Day. Death came from intentional overdose of muscle relaxants.

God rest your body and soul Vic Chesnutt. May you find peace at last.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenge and reward. 8 Dec 2009
By Greg - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Chesnutt is in top form on "At the Cut," both lyrically and musically. Always challenging to listen to--in the same way that, say, Tom Waits is challenging--Chesnutt rewards the attentive listener with a voice matched to the poignant, piquant, oddball poetry. Decorated with spare, graceful instrumentation, each song conveys a mood, a state of mind, impressionistically.

See, I told you it was challenging.

This is not party music, this is not background music...this is frankly art. One hint of that fact, something I really appreciate, is that Chesnutt signposts the source of some of his poetry and music with parenthetical references in the liner note lyric sheet.

My guess is that people would generally be highly divided on Chesnutt, as they can be with any mold-breaking artist with a unique vision. It would be fairly easy to hate the injured-hound voice on some songs, the inscrutable lyrics on another, the discordant arrangement on a third. But for someone willing to invest in a little adventure, the payoff can be extraordinary. I have always found Chesnutt's output, while sometimes initially off-putting, ultimately something I want to dive back into periodically again and again.

Nearly all of Chesnutt's music is intimate. It sounds as if it is being played in a living room, or at its most public, a small coffeehouse or bar. But the CDs only gesture toward the intimacy of a live performance, for which the CDs can only ever be a cheap souvenir. If Chesnutt is appearing near you, especially in a dive of some kind, for gawd's sake go see him. There's something about the brokenness of his music that only really shines through live. There's this Japanese term, "wabi-sabi," that points to the beauty of the "imperfect and impermanent." The Chesnutt concerts (which seems like too commercial a word for what they felt like) were profoundly wabi-sabi affairs...and among the greatest art experiences of my life.

NOTE ADDED AFTER CHRISTMAS: It is heartbreaking to report that Vic ended his difficult life on Christmas Day, 2009, so if you haven't already seen him, his recorded music is all you'll have. At the risk of editorializing, I wish to say that it's hard for me not to conclude that to some degree, Vic was a victim of a broken health care system. In an interview on National Public Radio he expressed that he was no longer able to keep up with his medical bills and didn't know what he was going to do the next time he needed life-saving surgery. I don't know but suspect that his suicide might have been the solution of someone who just couldn't take it any more. Perhaps no amount of health care reform could save everyone in Vic's position, but it's hard for me to imagine that compassionate and affordable care might not have made a difference. To those who have stood opposed to reasonable access to care for those who need it: Vic just might have died for your sins.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Add This One to the List of Best Swan Song Records 13 Jan 2011
By Gregory William Locke - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I buy a new album every New Year's Eve before the foolery begins. This year I was stumped. Nothing jumped out at me. How do you do justice to such an awful year? As I hit the counter ready to buy the new Lady Gaga release (don't ask), I saw a copy of the new Vic Chesnutt record, At the Cut, just sitting there. Lonely. No-brianer: gimme that Chesnutt album, I have a new year to find escape in.

Moments later I found myself sitting at the player, album in hand. Good looking record. Great looking record. But I couldn't put it in, all things considered (Google Vic if you don't know what I mean here). This final chapter - not countingVic's tossed off Skitter On Take Off - had me scared to the point of Captain Wet Pants, but I put it in regardless. I put this very dark record on, if you can believe it, before heading to a dinner party full of happy people talking about happy things. As the songs started I felt weak and fragile; I should've bought that stupid f&%#ing Gaga record like a normal human being, not the most depressing - on many levels - record of 2009. The most depressing record ever. Turned it off.

Come the morning of New Year's Day I found myself shivering in my bathrobe as Chesnutt's "Flirted With You All My Life" fell from the speakers. Should I bawl my brains out or should I simply digest these emotions and let them further expand my personal definition of what it means to be an artist? Songs get no more meaningful than this, I reasoned with myself. And so I do both. Over and over, I did both as the record skipped along, plucking raw nerves.

And the song, one of the standout's on the songwriter's second album featuring members of the Godspeed/Mount Zion gang, is the kind of song we write/read books about. I won't go into too much detail, so as not to ruin the impact. I will say this: it's haunting; it's real; it's terrifying; and, had things turned out less harrowing for the artist, it'd be an intense victory march. The 33 1/3 publishers are gonna have a heyday with this record.

Chesnutt's first record with the Godspeeders, titled North Star Deserter, was good. Not great, but a solid merging of styles and minds and certainly a better record than the one he made with Elf Power. Here Chesnutt also adds Fugazi's Guy Picciotto - who handles lead guitar duties - to the mix. And he's great. I recently heard the guitarist speaking on the subject of the record and Vic on "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," and, aside from showing much love for the record, he spoke of his deep bond with Vic. It was sad. These two, I'm certain, would've made more great music together. Nerve-plucking power.

Opener "Coward" is intense, growing from a minimal acoustic track into an almost scary declaration song that I could see Nick Cave someday giving his gothic slant. It's a highlight, as is "Chinaberry Tree," one of the album's more accessible cuts. "Tree's" arrangement and guitar work even reminds a bit of Wilco's live treatments.

And then we have "Concord Country Jubilee," one of the best Vic songs in years. Maybe ever. It's a laid back, late-fall twanger that I'd without hesitating list as one of my favorite cuts of 2009. Contrabass, guitar, piano and keys have rarely sounded so organic and serene, making the track a nice escape from the records more serious material.

If nothing else, be sure to hear "Flirted With You All My Life" at some point. Like the rest of Cut, it's both beautiful and heartbreaking. Almost too much to take. Musicians with that power don't come around too often.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vic Chesnutt - At the Cut 4 Jan 2010
By Chris Yeager - Published on
Format:Audio CD
My wife got me this for Christmas - if you can imagine. But I'm probably not alone in that. This is a beautiful CD. I am a lifelong singer-songwriter appreciator, the more obscure the better, and it's guys like the late Vic Chesnutt who keep me listening. He was absolutely endearing on "Fresh Air" last month. I can't add more to what's been said here very well already; if you're serious about your songwriters, you should have this work. I cannot get "Chinaberry Tree" out of my head, it's unspeakably tragic.....
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