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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chesnutt's Sublime Bells, 1 April 2005
Juan Mobili (Valley Cottage, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ghetto Bells (Audio CD)
When people like Michael Stipe -"Top 10 finest songwriters today: Vic Chesnutt"- or Tom Waits -"He's fragile like Neil Young, Daniel Johnston and Aaron Neville, songs like strange things you find on the ground"- have this much praise to offer for a fellow musician, I think it is alright for those among us, who long to be moved by great songs, to stop and listen.
Chesnutt new album, Ghetto Bells, is a fine place to start, perhaps a perfect one. At least to me, it conjures up the bare poetic soul of his early classics -"West Of Rome," "Little," the Stipe-produced, or "Is The Actor Happy"- at the same time that it reminds me of the sophisticated musical vision of his amazing 2003's "Silver Lake."
For those who have already fallen under Chesnutt's spell, saying this much will be sufficient or, perhaps, unnecessary. The man has proven to be such uncompromising talent enough times to justify the purchase of his works "sight-unseen." For those who may not know them well, the rest of these words -I hope- may be useful to convince them of purchasing this album.
First and foremost, his lyrics -at once ironic, deeply emotive and deceptively simple-- deserve a place along the great songwriters of popular music. I'm thinking of people like Jimmy Webb, Springsteen or Leonard Cohen, none of whom are references in style, but a sign of Chesnutt's poetic stature.
Listen to songs like "Virginia" -a moving confession of troubled love for his mother- or "Ignorant People" -in which he expresses such sincere gratitude for the life he gets to live- as fine examples of his depth of feeling. Both particular poignant when you realize that he has been paralyzed as the result of a car accident in 1983, when he was only 18. Both infused with courageous acceptance, and not a single gram of sentimentality.
Musically speaking, although his songs remain faithful to authentic simplicity, these melodies are utterly moving. In addition to the songs mentioned before, I'm thinking of "Forthright," "Rambunctious Cloud" and the incomparable "Vesuvius."
Of course, it does not hurt to have the assistance of Van Dyke Park on piano, accordion and organ -plus the exquisite strings arrangement in "Virginia" - nor the unpredictable beauty of Bill Frisell's guitar, or the masterful drumming of Don Heffington.
Finally, and perhaps the most impressive surprise of Ghetto Bells, is Vic's voice, which it managed to achieve a vulnerability nothing less than courageous, beautiful in its disregard to be perfect and most interested in connecting deeply with the listener.
As Van Dyke Parks said, "Add Vic Chesnutt to your short-list of great Southern Writers. A true Romantic poet! In his works is an unsparing candor, leaving the casual listener amazed, deluged and wrung out again-refreshed with truly informed optimism and shoots of ironic humor, sprouting up in most unexpected places."
This is an extraordinary album, a work that offers hard-earned joy, humble wisdom and and immense relief amidst the caution and self-consciousness so prevalent in recent recordings from respected and more famous artists today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Mr Chesnutt, 8 Sep 2012
Ridware (HAMSTALL RIDWARE, STAFFS United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghetto Bells (Audio CD)
Its a real shame that there are not more reviews on vic chesnutts releases here on amazon (and im as guilty , as this is my first )
i first got into vic after hearing the excellent tribute cd SWEET RELIEF 2 which contains covers of his songs by many great artists such as REM/SPARKLEHORSE/SMASHING PUMPKINS/KRISTIN HERSH ETC. highly recommended !! actually sweet relief also got me into Sparklehorse and Kristin Hersh in a big way also.
I went on to get his 'classic' albums west of rome, drunk and is the actor happy, which are all superb.
i have since bought all of vics albums including the rather hard to obtain german film soundtrack. Of his other albums I think ghetto Bells is one of his most polished and enjoyable albums
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Ghetto Bells
Ghetto Bells by Vic Chesnutt (Audio CD - 2008)
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