Music

Amy Rigby: Little Fugitive

Steve Horowitz

The trouble with Rigby is that she's alright. That's good for her, but she's much more interesting when she's unhappy or just plain angry.


Amy Rigby

Little Fugitive

Label: Signature Sounds
US Release Date: 2005-08-23
UK Release Date: Available as import
iTunes affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Amy Rigby has a great sense of humor and a biting wit. Her songs have frequently expressed an appreciation of the absurdities of everyday life with a literate ability to illuminate the madness of the mundane. Best of all, the ballsy chick refused to grow old gently or accept the society-imposed limitations of acceptable behavior. She wore her torn stockings and black leather miniskirt with pride and would not accept aging gracefully, even when she sang about the drudgery of her middle class existence. Rigby managed to be enraged and a responsible realist at the same time -- a tough balancing act.

Well the good news for Rigby is that she seems to have found contentment in life. She sings of true romance without irony. She describes a man so devoted to her that he loves her when she's sad, when she's happy, when she's sweet, when she's evil, when she's useless, when she's clever, and blah blah blah. That's great, Amy, but so what? It's like that famous Chekhov quote about all happy families have the same story, but it's the miserable one's that are most interesting. Rigby may be joyful, but this leaves her with little to say. She's reduced to whining and complaining about nothing in particular.

For example, the newly married lady sings about "The Trouble with Jeannie", her husband's ex-wife. Jeannie's problem is "that she's alright" so Rigby can't hate her. Oh, the messiness of modern life. And there's "Needy Men", who do what -- are "always calling on the phone". These guys are such a bore. Or the East Coast songstress knows "It's Not Safe" to go outside. No, the problem is not urban crime or international terrorists. The dilemma is that she might see something that reminds her of a former lover. How cliché! As these song titles indicate, Rigby doesn't really have much to say. She knows this as the title of another song, "I Don't Want to Talk About Love", indicates. But what does she want to sing about? The litany offered in the lyrics of that tune indicates she doesn't really know, either ("Let's discuss the hybrid car / Let's eulogize the mason jar / Let's analyze roofing tar / And A Bridge Too Far"). The rhyming scheme doesn't hide the paucity of her imagination.

Unfortunately, this is true of many of the other songs, even when Rigby tries to be outrageous. On "Year of the Fling", she sings of leather and metal restraints, but manages to make perversion sound boring. On another she compares herself to the Russian mystic Rasputin in the song from which the album presumably gets its name, but the lyrics get lame ("He gave some folks high hope / Others wanted him to choke") and say little. Even her stab at a feminist anthem, "Girls Got it Bad", has a chorus that seems more of a parody than a sincere protest ("Girls got it bad / Got it bad all over the world /Girls got it bad / Got it bad").

Little Fugitives' dullness is exacerbated by the fact that most of the songs don't really rock. Sure there are electric guitars, played by Rigby and her longtime accompanist Jon Graboff, but they mostly play them at slow and midtempo speeds. They rarely play them loud or with gusto, and in addition, the two musicians perform leads on acoustic instruments on several songs. The backing band members on keyboards, bass, drums, and other pieces of equipment function mostly as a way to fill out the musical spaces and rarely stand out.

However, the one track where Rigby does kinda rock out is the best one on the disc. "Dancing with Joey Ramone" tells of a dream she had about a party where the punk rocker walked up to her and asked her to dance, without saying a word. Rigby appropriately recites the titles of classic tunes they bopped to -- ones that the late Joey surely loved -- like the Coasters' "Charlie Brown", the Dave Clark Five's "Glad all Over", the Crystals' "He Hit Me, and it Felt Like a Kiss", and many others. Rigby sings the lyrics over a classic 4/4 rock beat as she describes how cool Joey looked "in his leather jacket / and his little dark shades" before she woke up. The tempo then changes on a dime to the high velocity rhythm made famous by the Ramones (think "Blitzkrieg Bop"). Rigby ends the song going on hyperspeed rather than slowing down. Joey would have liked that.

4

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.