The only reason why Amy Rigby has remained a “critic’s darling” ever since her first solo album back in 1996, is that she hasn’t been properly exposed to the mass audience, who would have loved her so much if only given a fair chance. While she’s been featured on the odd big TV show and has worked the clubs like a madwoman, she hasn’t received the massive promotional package — and, as it is, the good fortune — it takes to break through to the mainstream today.
It is doubtful whether this retrospective of her years spent on the Koch label will change any of that, although she certainly deserves it. As you deserve it too. Rigby is one of those artists that should have been a superstar but are too good to sell by simple marketing formulas. Fact is, there’s a huge audience for this music, if only those people knew that this album existed.
As this collection of her solo years proves, Rigby is a sincere and uncompromising performer, with an easy way around a melody and a deft way with words. Her lyrics, funny and clever on the outside, convey a real sense of subtle wonder and poignancy. And while the music resides in folk pop land, each song — bar a few rare misses — is as vital and unique as one could reasonably demand from any top artist.
Coming from a punkier band background, her recent move from New York to Nashville seems to signify a defining feature of her music as well. The more recent songs on here are the better ones, combining her heavier country leanings with a healthy punk attitude. And so, Amy Rigby is unlike most artists coming out of Nashville these days. If anything, she has more in common with the Uncle Tupelos and the Lone Justices of the world. Actually, there is quite a lot here to remind you of Maria McKee, but Rigby has this power pop thing going as well, as on “What I Need,” a track that combines Big Star with semi-psychedelic late-’60s funk. Or how about “All I Want,” a country take on upbeat Motown as filtered through the British Invasion. Patsy Cline as a punk, then, and all the better for it.
This is a beautiful, outreaching album that begs you to listen, and that deserves it too. You should lend it an ear, if only to be amazed at what the world is willing to ignore. Captivating and endearing.
Koch Entertainment: http://www.kochentertainment.com