Heralded by a full blown tower of 60’s/ 70’s soul in the Curtis/ Marvin tradition, Thats Still Mama, ‘Landing On A Hundred‘ (Out now), is Cody’s ChesnuTT’s first full album of new material in a decade. Cody performed two emotional one-man shows in London in September, previewing new material, including a headline date at The Jazz Cafe. He is set to return to the UK in March next year with his 9-piece band.
Universally acclaimed for his edgy, sprawling Shortlist Prize nominated 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, Cody ChesnuTT re-emerges as a soul troubadour whose frank, socially conscious songs, set the bar for what modern soul music can look and sound like: On every level – rhythm, song, subject matter, spirit – Landing On A Hundred delivers massively, it’s message upbeat even as it reflects upon troubled times.
Says Cody “This body of work is extremely meaningful to me – it represents the journey I have been on since I last released an album. Words cannot describe or express how excited I am about this music.”
Opener ‘Till I Met Thee’ shakes it’s mean little hips at you. This song finger-flicks itself into the room. Does a twirl. And smiles sweetly. Cody’s voice is bright moon happy and silver braided. The razzled, sumptuous atmosphere created by the arches of spanning vocals push the ‘Dead Man’ lyrics into the boudoir. And, then, of course, the persistent fingering vibrations will create a familiar tenderness in your under-loins. But you are left wondering at the religious implications. And feeling a bit guilty about yourself.
Ah-ha- ‘I’ve Been Life’ introduces the shtorking bass and tremulous guitar jangles into your life. These swish and rattle around this feverish track. Stroking and tickling you with their purring shenanigans. Cody prowls around this song like a syrupy cat hunting for the cream. Luxurious, sultry and smoother than a waxed bottom on the Posto Dois.
Silky tomfoolery and saggy vocals drawl deeply, as they soulfully filter through the waxed curtain of the sounds on ‘That’s Still Mama’. It’s enough to make your snow globes itch and burn.
I don’t know ‘What Kind of Cool (Will We Think of Next)’ but it is probably in the form of this song. Soft as a coconut souffle and flimsy as a sno-cone foamball. Horns cradle the cool vocals, adding a touch of spice to the otherwise sweetmeat mix.
“You can follow the wind… follow your skin.” Says Cody but, he implores us, ‘Don’t Follow Me’. This is feeble advice. You won’t be able to accept it. The song contains a wallowing bass note that gives you the heart-bumps. And then ‘Everybody’s Brother’ opens up with a nostalgic horn sound (it’s a bit James Bondy.) And Cody narrates a list of his bad points- but then tells us triumphantly that he ‘Ain’t Turning Back’. Well, as a confessional there is not much contrition here. But none of us can turn back time. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
And we all know that love is ‘More than a cheque book… and more than a Wedding Day’. Really, it is not so much of a revelation. But it is probably something she once said. So it needs to repeated back to her. A pleasant twin-set of jazzy piano and sizzling sax helps to sell this next track.
‘Under The Spell of the Handout’ starkly sets out the ChesnuTT protest stall. Rock ‘n’ roll guitars and a stopgap rhythm is painted black-and-white onto the chalkboard. Then ‘ Don’t Go The Other Way’ recreates the soul of the seventies. We know you do not want to wake the sleeping beasty. But those drum crackles and swirls of sound will undoubtedly rouse your reminiscences … out of their lingering yawns and cosy slumbers.
‘Chip’s Down (In No Landfill)’ begins with a piano piece for simpletons. It’s a classic case of vintage booty. When the chorus ascends into view, it is recognizable and gorgeous. This song is about losing it all. But somehow, that is quite liberating isn’t it? And we are not surprised that they had to sell off all his stuff, because (frankly) if he does not know where it all comes from, what’s the point in having it? ‘Where Is All The Money Going?’ is the story of our times, though, and a tale for all of us in these days of triple-dip recession. We know where all the money is going though don’t we? It goes into the fat-cat pockets and multi-national troughs. But where is it all coming from? Perhaps it just goes round-and-round. Like this track. It ‘s exciting and uneven. It can be a bumpy ride at times.
‘Scroll Call’ completes this album of delights. It has an inherent tension that gnaws at your tops. And the rubber gasped thwackery of Cody’s drifting and chaotically grinning vocals starts doing things with your dainties. And before you know it, Cody has dropped your unmentionables in the hall, and swanked off into the jazz-light. Just leaving the bridges he has built between you and your own feeble impotence.
You’d better listen to it all over again. Then you might feel better.
-© Neil_Mach November 2012 –
Landing On A Hundred
Label: One Little Indian
Catalog Number: TPLP1171