Maybe it’s due to climate change, shifts in sea levels and stronger ocean winds, but sometime in the past few years, the island of New York seems to have detached from the Northeast and floated down into the Gulf of Mexico. At least that’s the impression I get listening to the state’s most exciting indie musicians from the past few years, many of whom are drawing strong inspiration from the music of the American South; take Big Thief’s experiments with Appalachian sounds on Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You, or the over-the-top southern rock stylings of Geese’s 3D Country, or the mellow twang of Sam Evian’s Plunge. At this rate, I’ve got half a mind to concoct a get-rich-quick scheme involving reopening CBGB as an actual Country, Bluegrass, and Blues venue, and the newest reason for me to do so is, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, Nate Amos’s solo debut under his This is Lorelei moniker, Box for Buddy, Box for Star.

If the name Nate Amos means anything to you, it’s either because of his work as an up-and-coming producer – Amos has worked on records for fellow NYC oddballs Lily Konigsberg and thanks for coming, and recently lent his talents to the fantastic new record from Philadelphia art-punks Grocer – or it’s because of his buzzy post-punk band Water From Your Eyes, who find the middle ground between Windmill scene (Squid, black midi, Dry Cleaning) and Mica-Levi-esque indietronica. On Box for Buddy, Box for Star, Amos plays artist and producer, and the resulting songs come across as an impossible fusion of timeless songwriting and futuristic production. The hallmarks of Amos’s quirky production style is still here – charmingly obvious MIDI work, a thin, almost claustrophobic mix, and a hefty amount of sampling and looping that seems more rooted in electronic beatmaking than it does indie rock songwriting – but paired with Amos’s brilliant folk-rock songs, it never feels like a gimmick.

This Is Lorelei - Angel's Eye

The record kicks off with “Angel’s Eye,” a melancholy bluegrass number that, aside from a tinny snare drum that would sound more in place in a trap beat than it does alongside a slide guitar and fiddle, has no business sounding as authentically country as it does. Amos takes a hard genre-turn right after with “Perfect Hand,” a lowkey RnB number driven by a beautifully sparse piano melody; the contrast of these two tracks is the only way to introduce the following batch of songs, which pull from everywhere.

Highlights include “I’m All Fucked Up,” a southern-fried slacker-rock tune with a Dylan-like verbosity, “Dancing in the Club,” which comes across as Born-in-the-USA-era Springsteen by way of A.G. Cook, and the earwormy title track, whose jaunty little synth melody and playful slide guitars come together way better than they should.

This Is Lorelei - Dancing In The Club

Even when the record isn’t leaning so hard into textural experimentation, Box for Buddy manages to impress; “Two Legs” is a pretty straightforward love song without any of the digital bells and whistles that make this record so special, but still pulls me in with its Beatles-y bass playing and heartbreakingly direct lyrics. Themes of breakups and crises of faith abound Box for Buddy, Box for Star, subjects that match the album’s Americana aesthetic perfectly; both are explored on the album closer, “An Extra Beat For You And Me,” which name-checks Amos’s band (“My love sees a star somehow / through the water in my eyes.”)

Box for Buddy, Box for Star is the work of an auteur; the product of someone who knows how to use the studio as an instrument, sure, but also knows how to use their own guitar and voice as one. If you haven’t heard of Nate Amos yet, you’ll be hearing about him soon; maybe not on the radio, but in some cool Brooklyn honky-tonk, almost certainly.

This Is Lorelei plays Philly on Monday, June 24th, opening for @ at Johnny Brenda’s. Tickets are still available, more information can be found at The WXPN Concert Calendar. Box for Buddy, Box for Star is available now via Double Double Whammy.