Although Vic Chesnutt has used a wheelchair since he was eighteen years old — a car wreck left the Georgia-born singer and songwriter a paraplegic — his imagination has never been bound. After the accident, he continued to perform and write, and eventually worked with Michael Stipe. The R.E.M. vocalist championed Chesnutt's desiccated wit, psychoanalytical lyricism and brittle voice, which wounds melodies like brambles creeping in the dark. This year, after some ten records, Chesnutt released North Star Deserter, an album that looks at blackbirds thirteen different ways — and explores everything else fluttering about his beautiful, eccentric mind. Backed by a cadre of indie rockers — including members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Fugazi — Chesnutt's topical satires and private obsessions sound like incantations from another world, another time.
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