Although his style of music is dubbed “neo soul”, there’s a clear lineage in Cody ChesnuTT’s music going back to the work of artists Iike Donny Hathaway, Isaac Hayes and Al Green. His first album “The headphone masterpiece” came out in 2002 so its good to see him back with his new body of work “Landing on a hundred”.
The band is made up of drums, bass, keyboards, lead guitar with Cody himself on rhythm guitar and right from the beginning there’s a great interaction between these versatile musicians. They start with the first track on the album “That’s still mama” and from there we’re transported back to the age of the old school soul artists, with plenty of confessional testifying from ChesnuTT himself.
He seems to want to atone for his self confessed bad boy lifestyle, and songs dedicated to his wife like “Till I met thee” attest to this. His song “Everybody’s brother” is an ode to taking crack, womanising and generally wasting his life but with the emphasis on that all being behind him now. This running theme of redemption is continued in songs like “No turning back”, and his testifying seems genuine and heartfelt.
A tune that could have been made for Brighton, “What kind of cool (will we think of next)” gets a huge reception and the band cook up a funk groove to keep things bubbling along.
He asks how long people in the audience have been married and after someone shouts “too long” he says that he has been married for 17 years and has two kids. Part of the reason he’s been so long between albums is that he’s been spending time just being a husband and father and seems all the more stronger, happier and sincere for it. “Life is more than a wedding day” is his testament to this and once again it gets the audience moving.
His funky take on afro beat, “I’ve been life” is a sure fire foot stomper before he reveals his Southern roots on “Gunpowder on the letter”, making it a diverse, feel good set that keeps us moving from start to finish.
When someone asks for one of his old songs he replies that he has moved on from being the person he was when he wrote those tunes and as a husband and father it would be irresponsible of him to perform those songs. Fair enough, when what he has played is this good.
The Concorde was only about two-thirds full for this one so a lot of people missed out on what I’m sure will be one of the gigs of the year. A great artist with a great band who deserves to be seen.