Vic Chesnutt

Perhaps it's thanks to some high-profile collaborators, but southern Gothic singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt compels in a way he hasn't in years on Gothic Bells, the latest in a long series of albums by the prolific Georgian. Producer John Chelew, who's worked similar magic on records by Charlie Musselwhite and the Blind Boys of Alabama, gives Chesnutt's musings a dark, mysterious drift, while Van Dyke Parks and Bill Frisell provide sympathetic instrumental backing. That Chesnutt seems royally pissed can't have hurt, either: "Little Caesar has a mandate," he seethes in Dubya's general direction, "now there is no doubt."