Daniel Knox Credit: Patrick Burke

Chicago singer-songwriter Daniel Knox can conjure whimsy and tenderness with subtle shifts in his commanding baritone voice. That ability suits him well in his new album-length tribute to everyone’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers. You Are My Friend: The Songs of Mister Rogers honors the original spirit of the material; Knox plays simple piano melodies that exude inviting playfulness, and he sings about everyday joys and fears with an earnest care that legitimizes listeners’ life experiences. But Knox goes beyond engaging in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood cosplay: he adds subtle flourishes of his own, including a wordless, lighter-than-air vocal melody on “Many Ways to Say I Love You” and plush piano notes on “Please Don’t Think It’s Funny.” Knox’s resonant voice and careful diction make his words land with precision and cling to your brain, which invites you to re-examine the meanings of songs you might not have really listened to since childhood. Knox clearly loves Rogers and his empathetic messages, and he wants everyone else to feel that warmth too.   v