Cody ChesnuTT - Landing On A Hundred

Whether it’s soul, blues, funk or rock and roll the musicianship is leather pants-tight.

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Cody ChesnuTT is best known as the featured voice on The Roots’ 2002 crossover smash ‘The Seed v2.0’, a remake of one of his tracks that after production stints and time in The Crosswalk saw him briefly flirt with the mainstream.

On ‘Landing On A Hundred’ he covers a wide spectrum of subject matter from social consciousness to the age old theme of perseverance through struggle, writing from the heart to profound effect. Blessed with one of those great soul voices, the power of his silken tones more than match the depth of feeling expressed through the accompanying lyrics.

The theme of redemption here is a constant one, both on a personal level and as exhortation that change is possible even in the most hardened cases. ‘Everybody’s Brother’ picks up this thread, telling the quite possibly autobiographical story of one mans journey from smoking crack to teaching kids in Sunday School. This is bettered still by the sublime ‘Chips Down (In No Landfill)’ which like much of the record is uplifting despite the often heavy subject matter. When Cody unpacks the reality that married life is a daily challenge on ‘Love Is More Than A Wedding Day’ it’s refreshing to hear an artist reflecting on love in a way that strips away the sugar coating.

A far cry from its predecessor, recorded on a 4-track cassette recorder in his bedroom recording studio, the rhythm tracks for ‘Landing On A Hundred’ were laid down by a ten-piece band in the iconic Memphis-based Royal Studios. Whether it’s soul, blues, funk or rock and roll the musicianship is leather pants-tight whilst the horn and string arrangements are honed to absolute perfection. This lends the album a sepia-like vintage quality which harks back to the likes of Curtis Mayfield setting it far above the stodgy auto-tuned production of much modern R&B.

Whilst it’s a shame we’ve had to wait the best part of a decade for this collection of songs there is rejoicing in the fact these have been released to the musical world. There is little that will trouble MTV playlist compilers but much to satisfy soul-deprived purists.

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