Rough Exterior, Silver Lining (ALBUM REVIEW: B+)

Ryan Dombal

“I met Johnny Cash in 1982 when I was playing in a popular redneck cover band,” said singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, recalling his unique run-in with the late music legend. He was filming a TV movie with Andy Griffith and my band played their wrap party. As Johnny and Andy were leaving, [Cash’s wife] June Carter was walking in between them holding them both up because they were so drunk. They were smiling and hootin’ and hollerin,’ but what struck me most was that June

Carter was hot! I know she was older than my mom but still — she was hot.”

Although his reedy, high-pitched voice couldn’t be more different than Cash’s bellowing baritone, Chesnutt’s wry, piercing lyrical abilities would have undoubtedly garnered much respect from the Man in Black. With his trademark wit and unflinching honesty, 38-year-old Chesnutt has built up a formidable canon of great folk-rock songs over the course of his 11 albums. His most recent release, Silver Lake, is a musical departure of sorts for the wheelchair-bound Southern songwriter, who opted for a more expansive feel instead of his usual lo-fi approach.