*** (out of 4)
If you yearn for the days of the signature sound from classic record labels like Stax, Volt, or Vee-Jay, then holy hell is this is record right up your alley.
Chesnutt actually record a lot of his long-awaited follow-up to 2002’s “The Headphone Masterpiece” in some legendary studios in Memphis, so you know he’s not messing around with this one. Songs like “I’ve Been Life” prove it. That track sounds like it wouldn’t be out of place on a blaxplotation soundtrack (that’s a good thing, by the way).
Other treats include “Love Is More Than A Wedding Day,” which should be the soundtrack to a thousand first dances at weddings and “Under the Spell of the Handout,” a sobering look at life under the poverty line these days. The whole album is well-constructed, which actually is the main point of frustration with it.
Chesnutt’s work has always been awesome because it’s completely unpredictable. This album sounds like a Burt Bacharach, Curtis Mayfield and Issac Hayes cover project more than an original piece of work. That can be jarring to people familiar with Chesnutt’s idiosyncratic combo of rock, blues, and R&B. However, If you have no clue who he is, then disregard the last two paragraphs and give this a listen from start to finish.
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