Friday, 2 June 2017

[Album Review] Cody Chesnutt: My Love Divine Degree

Chesnutt's first album in four years begins with the short declearion that 'anything could happen when the music is good' and 'My Love Divine Degree' proves that his music is good enough to make a smile wander across your face and your feet tapping, if not a little short of anything.

The album begins proper with 'Africa the Future', a heartfelt politics-heavy song to the prosperity of the continent, its hefty words and choral-led calls for supporting Africa, well constructed in a strong, energetic number. Track 3 of 14, 'She Ran Away', kicks off with a fourth-wall breaking radio introduction that should put some jocks out of work if the song gets cut as a single, leading to a summery, funky number that continues the solid opening that bounces a long with a rhythmic, tempo-shifting vibe.

From here on in the album perhaps takes a bit of a step back in its lyrics and atmosphere. 'So Sad To See (A Lost Generation)' promises plenty with its title and it has swagger but lacks the energy of previous numbers. The Raphael Saddiq- featuring 'Bullets in the Street and Blood' with its 'Do It For the Baby' has a fun enough rhythm and flow and is a much more laid back and chill-out track, whilst 'Always Sebrena' with its timpani-esque opening has a caribbean fairy-tale feel though it doesn't really grab you over its sub-2-minute running time.

'Make A Better Man', with its acapella opening, and then funky rhythm lifts things up more and feels like a future single with its summery, bouncy rhythm and catchy vibe. Track eight and lead single 'I Stay Ready' with its poppy vibe, strong production and catchy hooks, still feels like the best the album has to offer though the electronic-tinged 'Image of Love' gives it a run for its money as one of the most interesting and musically great tracks on the album. 'It's In The Love' is another warm track with funky vibes and a catchy hook, though doesn't quite have enough to stand up as easily distinguishable from the tracks around it. 

There's a slight early Labrinth-feel to 'This Green Leaf' really lifts the spirits as the album ends and the metaphor is nicely delivered in a covert manner. 'Peace (Side by Side)' is a gentler number but works thanks to its strong lyrics and gentle, unobtrusive vibe, but if you really listen to the lyrics it hits home.

'Have You Heard Anything From the Lord Today', the penultimate track, is a soulful number and though a little repetitive is a fun little listen and flows nicely through its jazzy improvised vibe. The album wraps up with 'Shine on the Mic', a cool and calming calypso-lite number.

'My Love Divine Degree' is a joyful, well written and performed album, and though its politicised lyrics might take priority at times over its song structure, it's a warming, summer-friendly LP with bite, though 'I Stay Ready' remains its big stand-out track. (7/10)

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