When talking to Logan Ledger about his T. Bone Burnett-produced EP, I Don’t Dream Anymore, out Friday (Oct. 4), one word comes up often: whimsical.

The term -- which, for country music fans, conjures memories of Lee Hazlewood, John Hartford and other clever wordsmiths -- applies when Ledger performs a live set anchored by his older songs, such as “River of Fools,” “Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me” and other topical departures from his bluegrass and classic country roots. The former best represents his mix of country and folk tradition with fairytale analogies via such lyrics as “There’s a dirty alligator just a-laughin’ at me / Joking with the buzzards and the snakes and the trees / Tried to get away but it ain’t no use / Now I’m a-headed down the River of Fools.”

""River of Fools" is a song that consciously, or maybe not consciously, was going for Roger Miller meets Robert Hunter,” Ledger tells The Boot. As for “Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me,” it also combines Ledger’s knowledge of roots music with his peculiar take on songwriting.

“I’m a big fan of Mississippi John Hurt. When I grew up, one of the first people I got into was Mississippi John and Doc Watson … finger-style guitar," he explains. “Mississippi John Hurt has a song called "Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me," which I always thought he wrote to an older melody. The melody is actually Jimmie Rodgers’ song "Waiting on a Train." Apparently, it was written by some lawyer in the ‘30s. I didn’t know that.

"I thought it was such a great title and great idea," Ledger continues. "This is a song I wrote when I was in still college eight years ago. I just took that concept and wrote a completely different song.”

Beyond landing him a deal with Rounder Records, Ledger’s hard work has earned the respect of elder statesmen-turned-songwriting partners Jim Lauderdale and Steve Earle. As impressively, his quirky lyrics have found an audience among the often-picky fans in Texas.

Ledger came by the hype the honest way. He’s not trying to impress red dirt music devotees, Deadheads or anyone else sure to love something from I Don’t Dream Anymore, which features the recently unveiled Courtney Marie Andrews duet, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Oh, Sister.”

“I’ve never made any claims to Southern or country authenticity,” Ledger reflects. “I’m just a hippie from California, and country music is part of what I do and something I’ve loved since I was a kid.”

Ledger will release a full-length album in early 2020.

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