It seems fitting to review New Orleans native Michael Cerveris' debut album while everyone's nursing their Mardi Gras hangovers. And considering half of the city of New Orleans was involved in the making of this album (see the "Labels" for this article,) Piety is as much a celebration of Cerveris' home as it is of his own creative labors. If you've seen Fringe or are a Broadway nerd, you will certainly recognize Cerveris as The Observer or Alison Bechdel's dad, respectively. So it's exciting to see (and hope) that Piety will give a national stage to some of the country's best and least known talents.
Piety, recorded on New Orleans' Piety Street, is a collection of Cerveris' gentle rock. His music is similar to Paul Sanchez's -- a folk backbone that's fleshed out by zydeco, jazz, and country elements. These songs have an easygoing nature that can best be described as pure New Orleans: a melange of music that coalesces into something delightful. Standouts are the playful love song "Tenth Grade" and, as a teacher of tenth graders, they are every bit as self-possessed and dorky as Cerveris describes. The final track, "Phoenix," is a gorgeous testament to healing and survival. That Cerveris can sell these extremes so easily speaks both to his humane approach to music as well as why he won a Tony for Best Actor.
Michael Cerveris -- Official, Purchase on iTunes
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