Vic Chesnutt – Is the Actor Happy?
Where earlier albums have seemed slightly disjointed, Vic Chesnutts latest, Is the Actor Happy?, shows a new maturity and musical coherence. Although he says he just wants to be Aaron Neville, his wish has not yet come true, and lucky for us. An elegiac feel has been added to the amused sur-realism that characterizes his songs, and Chesnutts fragile voice wraps itself around the difficult diction (The army motorcade / With its abormal load haulage) sounding equally pained yet more assured.
The days on the road have paid off for his scared little skiffle group and they sound right at home on this stage. Acoustic melodies and the simple shuffle of bass and drums broken by the occasional, on-target power chord are supplemented alternately by pedal steel, cello and concertina for added flavor.
Chesnutt revels in the unexpected and is a crackpot philosopher of the commonplace. Adding up to a catalog of missteps, the album addresses the simple and absurd, superstitions, and memories of the unexpected. It hurts my heart this forced review, he sings in Thumbtack, while piling on to the collection of things left undone and unsaid in Onion Soup: I wrote you an eloquent postcard once / About this most exquisite onion soup / But of course I never mailed it though.
Like the said Peter Pan he paints himself to be, Chesnutt is a friend to the loss of innocence and those who have lost. Yes, we love the Doubting Woman. And you will too.