Cody ChesnuTT - Landing On a Hundred
With the classic seventies soul sound well and truly disappearing from contemporary popular music, being replaced by electronic soul sounds and modern R&B, it is very surprising when a genuine soul album is released and even more surprising when its quality matches that of its 70s predecessors. Cody ChestnuTT's latest album Landing On a Hundred is such an album, and brings smooth soul right back to its 70s roots.
ChestnuTT first came to the music scene with his debut double album The Headphone Masterpiece, which dropped in late 2002 and contained a gargantuan 36 songs, covered over the two discs. The album never received a huge amount of attention from critics and although it contained very interesting moments and was all recorded at his home on a 4-track tape recorder, making it one of the only R&B/Soul records to apply the lo-fi aesthetic to its sound, it was still never received with too much appraisal from the music press (although some less orthodox listeners did claim it to be a classic album). More recently in 2010 Mr ChestnuTT released a five song EP titled Black Skin No Value, which, as you can probably tell, was stuffed with social commentary, but kept to his experimental soul sound. Now as Landing On a Hundred is being released it has met more praise than ever before, being touted as the best soul album of 2012, and in our humble opinion a long time before that too.
Although the album doesn't lose too much of the experimentation that ChestnuTT became renowned for - 'Where Is All The Money Going' contains a blip sound every so often that sounds suspiciously like Pong - it does succeed in sounding a whole lot more soulful than his other records, with swathes of outside influences including rock, hints of hip-hop, funk and blues. With an unquestionably more polished sound to Landing On a Hundred, it comes as a surprise that this is no normal 21st century production with all the bells and whistles, it is in fact a lot more retro than that. Cody insisted that the album be recorded on a two inch audio tape at the Royal Memphis Studios where the album was put down, and used the exact same microphone that Al Green did when recording there, which shows Cody's homage to artists like Reverend Green and Marvin Gaye.
All in all Landing On a Hundred is a captivating listen which exhibits ChestnuTTs adept song writing skills, amazing production and a sound that has been sorely missed. It is both aurally engaging as well as lyrically clever, with the songs hop, skip and jumping between a variety of themes and issues, including romance, personnel issues and social commentary. Landing On a Hundred is without doubt one of the most refreshing yet staunchly retro albums that we have heard in a long time. Cody ChesnuTT has now solidified his position as one of soul's brightest sparks.