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Amy Rigby


Some song writers have their tongues so firmly planted in their cheeks, they forget that songs are about more than just being witty--their songs rarely stand the test of repeated listening. Not so Amy Rigby. On her fifth album, Little Fugitive, this native New Yorker continues to keep things interesting with melodies that stick, crazy and oddly satisfying metaphors (she compares her own resilience with that of the famously demonized Russian, Rasputin: "I'm like Rasputin / I get back up again / Like Rasputin / I keep coming back, coming back, coming back to life"), and a world view that often alights on the odder, and hence truer, hemisphere of human existence. I heard about the song "The Trouble with Jeanie" long before I ever heard the song itself. In it, Rigby's character sings of her new husband's ex-wife, Jeanie, who she wants to hate, but can't because, well, Jeanie's just too nice. The friend who told me about it crowed over her funny and too true perspective. Rigby is, indeed, great at unearthing neurosis and bitterness and touching weakness without sounding self-indulgent. At every stage in her career, she's exhibited a rare talent for examining the elbows and knees of life: those crucial and sometimes awkward points that jut out at weird angles and encompass the funny bones, which hurt so much when you knock them it almost makes you laugh.

In going back to New York to record Little Fugitive, Rigby has not only moved geographically from her relatively short Nashville stint, she has also moved her sound away from her earlier Americana days towards something more like guerrilla pop. With a voice that totters appealingly like a teenager in new high heels, she infuses even the tenderest moments with a garage aesthetic and comes out swinging in songs like "Dancing With Joey Ramone," which comes across as part tribute, part fantasy.

On Little Fugitive, Amy Rigby paints with broad strokes, borrowing colors from multiple genres--early rock and roll, psychodelia, folk--and underscores her sardony with jaunty sounds, like the clarinet in "Needy Men." The diverse sounds don't seem disjointed, though--on the contrary they all serve the quirky and honest vision of Amy Rigby, tongue lightly in cheek, one foot firmly planted in the real world. 
• Judith Edelman

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more photos by Brydget Carrillo

check out our interview with Amy Rigby

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