Caustic Athens-based singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt recorded his twelfth solo release in Canada. Yet it retains his usual humid, Southern-injected spirit, resulting in his best work to date. The collection of offbeat songs features detailed yet mysteriously vague characters. The stories are told via unobtrusive, cinematic production touches from vaulted New York-based filmmaker Jem Cohen (R.E.M., Smoke). Unforgettable wordplay, worthy of some lost Tennessee Williams novella, is Chesnutt's strength, and he continues his extraordinary winning streak on Deserter. His humble lyrics examine the minutia of plain, everyday activities, elevating them to high and candidly vulgar art. Participation from Guy Picciotto (Fugazi) and members of Hangedup and Godspeed You! Black Emperor support the skeletal scenarios, highlighted by two explosive chronicles ("Debriefing" and "Everything I Say"). 5 stars
Vic Chesnutt plays the Earl Sat., Oct. 20, 9 p.m. $12.