Cody ChesnuTT – [Album]

Thursday, 29 November 2012

How important can innocence be to an artist and how infectious can the spirit of that state be when that artist is first starting out? As Cody ChesnuTT proves with Landing On A Hundred, innocence can mean everything in the world and losing it can be a bitter pill to swallow for the fans who have to deal with it. When the singer first appeared ten years agowith a double album recorded at home on no budget and released with about the same number of promotional dollars, what those who picked up and won by in The Headphone Masterpiece  was a document rife with raw talent. ChesnuTT proved that all one really needed in order to record a great set of songs was desire and the will to do so and the recording proved that the rest would just sort of take care of itself. It was awesome and liberating to hear that so very much apparent in The Headphone Masterpiece and – at least in some circles – Cody ChesnuTT became became something of a legend; a legend which grew as time wore on but, as the years went by and no more new music came, eventually even the most devout supporters began to fall away. When he finally noticed he was losing listeners hand over fist with his inactivity, that's when Cody ChesnuTT  began working on new music – first on a live album which no one heard (because it went unreleased) and then on an EP which went under-promoted in 2010 and now on Landing On A Hundred – an album which would be revered if it was released by a new artist, but almost feels like a letdown because it was released by the “indie demigod soul singer Cody ChesnuTT.”

Fans who waited so patiently for so long during the lull after The Headphone Masterpiece first began to lose its shine will only be able to stutter out sentiments like, “This is great! But… it doesn't sound anything like I expected as “Til I Meet Thee” opens the record. There's no argument to be had in that appraisal; from the top, ChesnuTT employs a production style which is decidedly much more expensive than anything on The Headphone Masterpiece. Here, the sounds of brassy and warm horns is absolutely more “Quincy Jones” in demeanor than Masterpiece's decidedly DIY bent ever was, and there's also a new smoothness and slickness to the singer's own voice; it is decidedly more “high rise” than “street level.” That trend of simply seeming more expensive and glamorous than before (but little else) continues into the almost “disco-dub” sounding soul of “I've Been Life” and the Phillie International-style soul of “That's Still Mama” before finally coming to rest at the sound of “What Kind Of Cool (Will We Think Of Next),” which could easily be mistaken for a tribute to Leon Huff.

All of those aforementioned songs sound absolutely great – true – but fans who waited so long will find themselves still stammering, “bu, but, but, BUT” because, while not a full turn away in form from where he was looking before, ChesnuTT is on a whole other planet musically from where he was when last we were won by him Why is that? It could be guessed that ChesnuTT is actually looking the exact same way he was a decade ago, he's just a hell of a lot closer to his goal than he was back then. If that's true, the onus will have to fall on listeners to decide if they're alright with hearing that.

Songs including “Don't Follow Me” (which sits close to the streets Tom Waits was haunting in 1976), “Love Is More Than A Wedding Day” (which would actually be a great song to hear at a wedding reception – and has the heartfelt hook to make it work too) and the “industrial side of town” pseudo-Soul commentary of “Under The Spell Of The Handout” all work their way by as listeners continue to try and decide if they're alright with the concept of a successful Cody ChesnuTT. They still won't be completely sure even as “Scroll Call” weaves its way through to close the album. Listening a second time, feels almost requisite to be sure, but that really won't help; fans have to decide on an individual basis (that's right, one-at-a-time) what they think of Landing On A Hundred – where Headphone Masterpiece was a community-minded record, this is a very solitary one and, for my money, this new thing just doesn't work as well.



Landing On A Hundred
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.