While Cody Chesnutt has not been totally silent since 1997’s The Headphone Masterpiece came on the scene, it’s been a minute since he’s released a full length work. Landing on a Hundred is welcome return to that form. In each of the songs, Chesnutt sings with honest conviction about taking responsibility for past personal faults and remaining true to his present devotion to family life. You can almost imagine Chesnutt singing these songs to his children as a step of growth from the period in which Headphone Masterpiece was recorded. Throughout Landing, his study of soul music producers such as Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Gamble & Huff is evident.
The album’s spiritual opener , “Til I Met Thee”, has classic soul and Caribbean elements and is as heartfelt of a song of change as they come. The theme of new life continues with a song of hope for the nations ravaged by war and economic pillage on continent of Africa with the track, “I’ve Been Life”. Chesnutt then observes the mere imitation of certain social practices (going to the club, drinking, various hustles, etc) that people can often use to mask personal pain and hinder genuine growth in “What Kind of Cool (Will We Think of Next)”. In the same spirit, he encourages the listener to make their own path with the track, “Don’t Follow Me”. The latter two are great songs, but difficult pills to swallow if you’ve existed in a culture that does not value personal expression which requires experimentation or improvisation. “Everybody’s Brother” speaks about his own path from addiction to now “teaching kids in Sunday school”.
The sharing of his experience about the work required to keep a relationship together becomes the basis for the song, “Love is More Than a Wedding Day”. Turning his attention back to the larger society, Chesnutt charges with the stinging rebuke, “Under The Spell of a Handout”. The track, “Chips Down (In No Landfill)”, explores his intentional recovery from technological dependence (cell phones, TV, radio, etc.) in order to focus on himself and his family (“I threw my silicon chips down…so that I could heal”).
Landing on a Hundred is rich and rewarding full-length album, and should be recognized as one of 2012’s music best rock/R&B projects.