Best of Denver

The Best Music of 2012: "Everybody's Brother," by Cody ChesnuTT, is disarmingly honest

Okay it's that time again -- time for us to start reflecting on our favorite albums of the year. Hey, if the radio can get away with playing round-the-clock Christmas songs already, I think we can all justifiably start comparing notes about the year's best music, right? As we start pulling together our year-end lists over the course of the next month or so, we'll be weighing in periodically on the tracks and albums that have truly stood out to us this year, beginning with songs like "Everybody's Brother," by Cody ChesnuTT, from Landing On a Hundred, ChesnuTT's new Kickstarter-funded album.

See also: - Ten best concerts of the summer - The thirty best concert photos of the far - Master Blaster: Cody ChesnuTT profile (2003) - Cody Chesnutt on his army helmet and what it's like being the coolest dude in the history of ever

Although all of ChesnuTT's new album is great, this track in particular is the most memorable and stirring. A sparser version of the cut appeared previously on the 2010 EP Black Skin No Value, but it's been reworked here magnificently.

Without fail, every single person who's been within earshot of me playing "Everybody's Brother" has posed the exact same question -- or a variation of the same query -- by the end of the first verse, either "Who is this?" or "What are you listening to?" But while I've always found ChesnuTT's voice to be utterly beguiling from the very first time I heard it on Headphone Masterpiece and it's certainly equally as compelling here, it's the words he's singing on this song that stopped me dead in my tracks:

I used to smoke crack back in the day I used to gamble rent money and lose I used to dog the nice ladies, used to swindle friends But now I'm teaching kids in Sunday school And I'm not turning back

Whether it's his own past that he's reconciling or he's simply channeling the travails of someone else, only ChesnuTT knows. Regardless, he does an admirable job of exposing the inherent and abhorrent narcissism of addiction. No justification or glorification, just concession and personal reparation. The unvarnished candor of the words spur a sense of vulnerability that's disarming. What's more, the subsequent conviction in ChesnuTT's voice as he repeats the refrain, no turning back -- bolstered on both the album version and here on the sparser rendition below by a distinctive gospel undertone -- manages to be uplifting even as it is regretful.

No one could sell a lie quicker than I No one could shift the blame better than me I used to walk out on my family with an intent to sin, Rejecting all accountability Lord, I'm not turning back

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Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera