Being fan-financed, Chesapeake lets Yamagata focus on the intricate pleasures of writing and performing songs that defy easy genre categorization. Elements of pop, jazz, and ‘70s piano ballads coalesce around a voice that would’ve been a soul star in the 1960s, a lite-FM presence in the early 1970s, or a disco leader by the end of that decade. Emerging in the 21st century, Yamagata has been left to flirt with alternative media outlets and styles that float and merge with little effort. She’s a singer/songwriter who can write sass (“Starlight”) and sincere (“You Won’t Let Me”) with the same convincing pitch. “Starlight” is the grand production number here, but tracks such as “Even If I Don’t” (with four minutes of excited tension) and “Stick Around” (with stalking bass and jazz gait) use arrangements that best express the tunes. “I Don’t Want to Be Your Mother” is an intimate highlight. “Dealbreaker” is a true showcase for her emotive range. Recorded with a small cast of talented friends, Chesapeake gives Yamagata’s fans their money’s worth.

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