Home Read Classic Album Review: Brute | Co-Balt

Classic Album Review: Brute | Co-Balt

Vic Chesnutt & Widespread Panic join forces for a stunning, magnetizing work.


This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


I didn’t know it at the time, but the day I listened to this second album by Brute — a collaboration between tragic singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt and southern jam-rockers Widespread Panic — happened to be the day that WP guitarist Mike Houser died of cancer.

I don’t know if these are his final recordings, but if so, he couldn’t have gone out on a higher note. Co-Balt is a stunning, magnetizing work that once again finds these seemingly opposite musical forces sounding very attractive indeed. Their styles dovetail far more seamlessly then you’d ever expect — Chesnutt’s quirky, Dylanesque balladry gets a helpful kick in the pants from the Panic’s loosely rolling roots-rock, while his oddball lyrics and songcraft add some much-needed structure and focus to their jam-based outlook. What you end up with are 11 memorable, slightly skewed slices of southern rock, boogie-woogie and randy blues whose strong, vibrant musicality is matched by their introspective emotional punch. Houser’s untimely death can’t help but cast a bit of a pall over the proceedings, but at least we got this disc before we lost him. R.I.P., Mike. And thanks.