Cody Chesnutt "Landing On A Hundred"

Cody ChesnuTT isn’t a man taken to small ideas. His 2002 debut, the double LP release The Headphone Masterpiece, set the bar high both in the audacity of its title and in the conceptual sweep of the songs. Since then ChesnuTT has released only a live album and an extended play release featuring a half dozen songs. That makes Landing On A Hundred the long awaited follow up to his debut.

 

ChesnuTT isn’t shy about proclaiming his talent or personal importance. In his liner notes he writes “How, with my gift of music, could I best serve the people?” That attitude explains the deep and confessional nature of the lyrics. Also core to his music is his abiding faith. The opening lyrics of the album’s first track “I was a dead man I was asleep/I was a stranger in a foreign land ‘til I met thee” refers to God. It is a theme that pops up often. ChestnuTT grapples with the  conflicted behavior of his characters as they attempt to balance their faith with their very human pitfalls. “That’s Still Mama” he describes a man who is part “Church boy…school boy…dope boy” a track strongly influenced by Marvin Gaye. “Don’t Want To Go the Other Way,” another study of a man struggling with his dual nature, exposes ChesnuTT’s church roots. By exposing the sins of his protagonists ChesnuTT seems to offer absolution, a kind of music confessional.

 

ChesnuTT also takes on political subjects, sometimes in bombastic fashion. He sings as the voice of  the African continent on the dubbed tinged “I’ve Been Life.”  “What Kind of Cool” addresses the overriding question where is music headed? Certainly not a question answered by any one song. “Don’t Follow Me” a dreamy mysterious ballad seems finds the singer addressing who? A child? A lover? His minions? He asks them to blindly follow in his footsteps. “Under the Spell Of the Handout” questions the welfare state to a rollicking melody. “Scroll Call” blends politics and religion.

 

Throughout this wide expanse of topics ChesnuTT’s vocals are consistently compelling and his band is top notch. The music borrows from a variety of musical backgrounds including soul, blues, funk, and rock.

 

Rosemary Welsch (Afternoon Mix)