Album Review \\ The politics of Cody ChesnuTT’s My Love Divine Degree
It has been four years since the last dip into soul-folkster Cody ChesnuTT’s musical psyche. It follows from 2012’s Landing on a Hundred, only his second record since his 2002 breakthrough release The Headphone Masterpiece. In this latest offering, My Love Divine Degree, he embodies a modern urban spirit, a creative vision set on the horizon of the future. On a first listen, it’s hard to pin down the age in which this album’s sound was created in. With his raspy vocals and lyrics of social consciousness, ChesnuTT feels like a Donny Hathaway for this generation.
Cody ChesnuTT’s trademark lo-fi electro soul, laced with rocking guitar riffs, runs throughout the record. Love Divine makes for a more challenging listen to the uninitiated, though, as it moves away from the R&B songs of Landing on a Hundred, or The Seed; ChesnuTT’s hit single with The Roots. Instead, this record scrambles towards a looser, more esoteric style, with a reward for those who take up the challenge, as its lyrical message is a potential a touch paper to our capacity for introspection. Bullets In The Street And Blood, his topical collaboration with Raphael Saadiq, and Africa The Future are anthems for the woke, and even slow jam Peace (Side-by-Side) serves as a call to action. Yet, it’s not all deep soul-searching stuff; ChesnuTT demonstrates his capacity for upbeat hooks that bury into your mind on funk-inflected tracks like It’s In The Love.
Haunting skits weave together the varied textures of the album. With political message at its core, the record traverses genre, from ska on Make A Better Man through blues on Have You Heard Anything From The Lord Today to reggae on Shine On The Mic.
Accompanying the album release, ChesnuTT will be heading across Europe on tour, with plans to perform in the US later in the year. No doubt he’ll leave an enlightened audience behind him and a future generation of soul performers in his wake.
JS | Lorna Cole