Domestic Disturbance

A singer-songwriting mom and mortal cultivates her complaints

"There's just one more thing I need to say about this relationship I had . . . " Amy Rigby lied from the stage of Satalla's in October, her spoken aside facilitating two gags at once—as a punchline for the raucous "I Don't Want to Talk About Love No More" still crashing to a halt behind her, and as a setup for the coy "Keep It to Yourself," in which a jilted woman wreaks passive-aggressive revenge by sweetly manipulating a bloodthirsty new beau into putting her loser ex on ice. The former hails from the new Little Fugitive, the latter's a bonus track off the 2002 preemie career-recap 18 Again, and both spotlight the precise balance of sensibilities that drives Rigby's songwriting: She's an endearing moan job.

Each U.S. region treasures its own distinct whine, so maybe Rigby's fling at Nashville hackery resulted in so few (as in zero) Martina McBride hits because she'd spent too long in New York, where anticipating inconvenience is an ingrained self-defense technique. Still, her knack for the charming complaint, rather than the stray horns and tinkly gewgaws that Rigby and Jon Graboff ably arrange in a style best dubbed "DIY Jon Brion," makes Little Fugitive Rigby's most appealing disc since Diary of a Mod Housewife in '96. Tweezing away at silver linings to unfurl the real cumulonimbus, Rigby discovers that her "new husband's ex-wife" isn't just an unavoidable presence but an unhateable one in "The Trouble With Jeanie," that nice guys are "Needy Men" in disguise, that "Girls Got It Bad" really does say it all.

Not doing retirement shows yet, but when will Martina McBride cover her songs?
photo: Brydget Carrillo
Not doing retirement shows yet, but when will Martina McBride cover her songs?

Details

Amy Rigby
Little Fugitive
Signature Sounds
Stream "Like Rasputin"
Stream "The Trouble With Jeanie" (Windows Media)

"I feel like this is my retirement show," Rigby joked at Satalla's, acknowledging the evening's this-is-your-life revue quality. Her daughter Hazel, who turned 17 that day, had already come onstage to sing backup, and now Rigby called for another guest, Lenny Kaye. That suggestive whiff of mortality, which Rigby reinforced when she introduced Kaye's "The Things You Leave Behind" by noting how movingly he'd performed the song at Robert Quine's memorial, also juiced up an ode to another dead punk. On disc, "Dancing With Joey Ramone" IDs a jukebox playlist like some savvy record collector's "We Didn't Start the Fire." Tonight, it was incantatory, the ideal follow-up to Hazel Rigby, in gold jacket and with sculpted bangs meeting her eyebrows, covering Alice Cooper's "Eighteen." A year early, maybe, but it's never too soon to start lying about your age.

 
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