B. Singer, Cherryfield (Independent)

B. Singer, Cherryfield, album cover

Usually when musicians attempt to take on the twin icons of Americana and its more specific NOLA variant, they bog down their passions with the kind of hushed studiousness that makes roots music sound boring to mainstream ears; obsessed with a legitimacy their icons never cared about, they tend to practice the letter of the law, not the spirit. B. Singer, who holds a sort of dual citizenship between here and Maine, understands this; or, even better, never stopped to consider it. His debut EP, to choose just one example, contains a song called “Frenchmen Street Music,” which sounds like some sort of awful hipster jazz tribute: instead, it’s light and breezy, replicating the feel of the area past and present, not coming off like a band flyer or a sepia toned artifact.

Refreshing is the word to describe the seven songs on Cherryfield, which was blessedly recorded in one afternoon while the whole band relaxed in what one assumes was the band’s house. It sounds just fine—thank you, modern technology—but it also sounds charmingly offhand, which is what you want when you’re combing blues more Piedmont than Delta, ancient jazz that actually swings, folk that isn’t the least bit freaky, and touches of bluegrass and a very light funk. Even when Singer and his pickup band change the one cover, the equally ancient “Crawdad Song,” into “The Crawfish Song,” inserting new verses about Mardi Gras, it sounds delightfully matter-of-fact, like the weather. No tourists here; somehow, no drums, either. An impressive debut.