Sun, 13 Jul 2003

Artist: Cody Chesnutt Album: The Headphone Masterpiece (Ready Set Go!)

What to do when you are suddenly dropped from your record label? For Cody Chesnutt the answer was to get a four-track and some instruments, go down into the basement and do some mad scientisting, emerging with a two-disk, lo-fi masterpiece that Chesnutt aptly titled The Headphone Masterpiece.

Because of the way the album was made it has a spare and intimate feel, which Chesnutt makes good use of to discuss his feelings on sex, love, religion and more. At times, as you listen to the album, it almost feels like eavesdropping on someone strumming their guitar in their bedroom, making up lyrics unaware they have an audience.

Over the course of the album's 36 tracks Chesnutt is profane, profound and everything in between. From the sweet Michelle to the hilariously crude Bit**, I'm Broke, Chesnutt hits on the different feelings, moods, dreams and desires that we all have.

This may be the album's greatest strength, its feeling of being more "real" than most albums with more production value. Chesnutt comes across as just a regular guy trying to deal with life in all its variety and pain.

On Boylife in America he sings, "All I want is pus**, gimme some religion, a brand-new Cadillac and a winning Lotto ticket." And isn't that what all guys want.

It will be interesting to see how Chesnutt follows up this gem when some record label throws bags of money at him to make his next album. -- Harry Dean