When: Fri., Feb. 8, 9:30 p.m. 2013
Florida-based neosoul singer Cody Chesnutt broke out in the early aughts after the Roots turned his song “The Seed” into the crossover hit “The Seed (2.0).” The original “Seed” appears on Chesnutt’s 2002 debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, an eccentric lo-fi album on which he played almost every instrument; it wasn’t till last year that he finally released another proper full-length, Landing on a Hundred (Vibration Vineyard/One Little Indian). Chesnutt has ditched the rugged sound of The Headphone Masterpiece, and with its luxuriant surfaces, Landing on a Hundred could pass for a remastered version of an early-60s soul album with a Motown-size budget. He embeds his lustrous voice in plush arrangements—bustling, playful horns, strings that mount to exquisite climaxes or paint mellow background strokes, backup singers who cushion Chesnutt’s singing with velvety harmonies—but as full as the songs can get, every element has enough room to be heard, right down to the gentlest tambourine rattle. Unsurprisingly, Chesnutt is still an oddball, and in fact the new album’s polished sound can make his bluntly matter-of-fact lyrics and weird non sequiturs feel even stranger. On the wonderful “Don’t Follow Me,” he begs in an aching voice for his loved ones to follow pretty much anything but him (“You can follow the wind / Follow your skin / Follow a tree / That follows the sea”) while a funereal organ melody maintains the tune’s molasses-slow pace. —Leor Galil Whysowhite opens.