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It’s about time the music community honored Vic Chesnutt, not because he’s a paraplegic, but because he’s one of the most unassumingly brilliant and gentle songwriters in the business. Fourteen pieces performed by a variety of guest artists represent Chesnutt’s oeuvre on Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, the second benefit for the Sweet Relief Fund (the first was a 1993 tribute to Victoria Williams), which raises money for musicians without health insurance. This record doesn’t necessarily benefit Chesnutt himself but others struck ill, such as Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous (temporarily wheelchair bound after an accident in England), whose contribution, “West of Rome,” reflects Chesnutt’s own stoicism. The record features solid performances by bands whose own mediocre material doesn’t showcase their talents. Most obvious is Soul Asylum, whose version of “When I Ran Off and Left Her” shows that Dave Pirner and his group can deliver on the promise displayed on 1990’s And the Horse They Rode in On—so long as they don’t have to write their own material. Garbage (“Kiss My Ass”), Live (“Supernatural”), and Cracker (“Withering”) also offer surprisingly good moments in spite of their customary lack of originality. But two standout performances exemplify Chesnutt at his compassionate best: Nancy Griffith’s lovely version of the title track—with a superb backing band called Hootie and the Blowfish (no kidding)—and Joe Henry’s version of “Guilty by Association,” which features stunningly simple supporting vocals by Henry’s sister-in-law, Madonna.—Tina Plottel