Vic Chesnutt and Mr. And Mrs. Keneipp
Although Merriment is credited to Vic Chesnutt and the Keneipps, it is barely a departure from Chesnutt’s former solo work. Far be that from a criticism. For those who’ve come to enjoy Chesnutt’s associative urban-folk, this record is a must. Merriment has the same kind of quiet beauty that pervades Lambchop’s sonicscape. With all its idiosyncrasies and ticks, Chesnutt and company are sometimes reminiscent of mid-’60s Willie Nelson and, at other times, wind up sounding like one of Oldham’s incarnations. And then there are shades of early-’70s Bowie and late Beatles in songs like “Sunny Pasture,” “Haiku,” and “Preponderance.” Vic Chesnutt and Mr. And Mrs. Keneipp successfully pull off these feats because of their considerable skill in song-craft. Kelly Keneipp (acclaimed collaborator of Georgian indie-popster Jack Logan) and Nikki Keneipp write the music on Merriment and play most of the instruments, with a Belle & Sebastian-esque timidity. Chesnutt’s lyrics run the surrealist gauntlet, sounding like a late-night exchange between Breton and Dali. The album begins with the title track, one of the more coherent moments, in which Chesnutt muses, “An old woman in a wig and a mule eating a fig, caterpillar on a twig shouldn’t flitter / Fellah hanging from a clock, someone falling from a dock, little ripple showing shock and then we titter.” All in all, this kind of frivolity makes for a very interesting album. It’s not often that a record is both graceful and random at the same time, but in the case of Merriment, these and other incongruities are combined with panache.
Backburner Records, PO Box 1212, Winder, GA 30680; http://www.backburnerrecords.com