There are times when being a music reviewer is a fun job. Some of the artists we listen to are so outstanding, they make it very easy for us to find the words to describe and recommend their product.
To this pantheon of artists I must now include Amy Rigby, aka The Mod Housewife. For years now, the middle-aged Rigby has continually released amazing feats of stripped down musical brilliance, and Little Fugitive is no exception.
Each song featured on Little Fugitive is a pungent slice of life rendering revelatory microcosms which allow the listener to try on Rigby’s eyes for an hour and experience the subtle bizarreness of single womanhood in America. The very first song, “Like Rasputin’” is not only an uplifting self-examination, but an allegory for the chasms of emotional peaks and valleys all humans share. From there, we go to “The Trouble with Jeanie…” which ponders the strange and unexpected friendship Rigby develops with her ex-husband’s new wife. Throughout the song Rigby ponders the difficulty of wanting to hate this woman but finding herself unable to because Jeanie’s “so nice”. Instead of wanting to claw each others’ eyes out, Rigby writes that she and Jeanie have become a sort of club of two who have seen their spouse naked, and can share a relationship based on his myriad flaws. Rigby’s ability to resist the stereotypical and emphasize the unusual is what brings her particular brand of music to life. We can all easily relate, because we know that things aren’t always what they seem.
Whether Rigby is sharing the ecstasy of having danced with the late rocker Joey Ramone, or lamenting the prevalence of “Needy Men”, each song strikes familiar cords within us. Her observations connote the acquired skill of trusting her instincts after being led by the nose by charismatic wolves in her past.
More striking that the songwriting is the bands ability to keep things subdued in order to emphasize Rigby’s considerable writing gifts. Multi-instrumentalist Jon Graboff, pianist and keyboard wiz Joe McGinty, bassist John Conte, percussionists Dennis Diken and Louis Appel remain constant in allowing Rigby the spotlight. And don’t forget to listen closely to the harmony vocals on “Things We Leave Behind”. You might just hear Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye.
The album was produced by Rigby and Graboff, but they had a huge head start with mixes performed by legendary ‘80’s producer Don Dixon. Throughout, the instrumentation and vocals sound as if they were recorded live in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse with extraordinary acoustics. The technique brings a warmth and intimacy to the album that we rarely experience anymore.
Whether you’re into folk, rock, folk-rock, acoustic or alternative, Little Fugitive will be well worth the investment of your time and money. Thus far, it is the apex for a recording artist who’s allowed us to swim around in her bloodstream many times before and is an indication of many more heights to be reached.