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on 18 July 2001
`Little` is Vic's first album. He's referred to his early songs as "art-therapy", an exorcism of the demons of his middle-Georgia upbringing through his adopted art. Safe in his wheelchair, and in his new Athens G.A. bohemia, Vic was free to vent the bristling inner torment, long suppressed. "I am not victim/I am an atheist" he sings in `Speed Racer` with his devoutly Christian parents now distanced. The resulting catharsis is harrowing, erratic and suitably bare-boned and minimal. It is a relief that it is also offset by Vic's wit (`Soft Picasso` is about a modern love affair, "completely cool and casual/they hardly knew each other was there") and idiosyncratic wordplay, and complemented by his non-repetitive story-telling technique. This is Vic before his voice was tempered, before the tunes were polished, before arrangements were made and before he started writing with an attentive audience in mind. This is the purists' record, and brilliant and unique it is.
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on 15 September 2010
I'm writing this in 2010, a year overshadowed in terms of Vic Chesnutt, by his death in December last year.

The ironic silver lining with these terrible events is always an increased interest in an artist's work and until recently I would have chosen Drunk to recommend to people as a tough but perfect introduction to Vic Chesnutt's work and only finally found this album this year but it has been one that I've constantly listened to and I think it's the only real starting point, especially as it was his.

Accuracy aside, the story goes that Michael Stipe (who writes the liner notes on this expanded edition) encouraged Vic Chesnutt into the studio where they had so little time and money that they were using unused tracks on already recorded-to tape to maximise the songs recorded in the session. Depending on the narrator, either stipe plays some simple keyboards or found the sounds for Vic Chesnutt to play.

There is a real energy of opportunity in these recordings, a sense of urgency to get them down in as exciting a way as possible and all of the vocal performances are crackling with personality and narrative emotion as though you were having a conversation with the guy.

The songs are mainly recollections from childhood onwards and there is a mixture of darkness (Mr Reilly) and humour (Rabbit Box, Soft Picasso) but you never get one without the other. I don't find them depressing in any way, more relaxing, as you settle into the stories while soaking up the skills of a master of the simple song with one of the most beautifully distinctive voices I've ever heard. Like many musicians, Vic Chesnutt expanded his pallette with bands on later recordings but he's never as pure and powerful as he is on his own on this album.

I know that this is a 'framing' time for this musician (I saw Vic Chesnutt 3 times and was lucky enough to meet him and he was a charming guy) but it's been a while since I've found satisfaction in just holding a CD, the package is perfect, the front cover of Vic tiny in the frame, the other family photos,his hand-written titles,his paintings and annotations on the songs and the liner notes from his friend all fit in perfectly with the songs.

Be a friend to yourself...
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