Puremusic interview with
Amy Rigby

One of our main missions at Puremusic.com is discovering and proliferating what we feel is good pop music for grownups. Frequently these acts may have a retro sound of one era or another, sometimes several eras in a given record. Because only AAA radio will play a given percentage of these artists, many of them are flying under the radar. Some tour as bands, others make produced records and hit the road as solo artists in singer songwriter type venues, and open up shows or even tours for bands when opportunity knocks.

One of the best and highest profile examples of this is Amy Rigby. If there is a woman out there writing funnier songs than Amy, we want to hear about it. Bittersweet, poignant--sure, she's all that, too. But as the writer of "Tonight I'm Gonna Give the Drummer Some," "I Hate Every Bone in Your Body But Mine" and "Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again?" she towers above the supposedly funny songwriters we've come across, especially the silly or overstated variety. Although she has brilliant and subtle songwriting cohorts in the likes of Bill DeMain, Steve Allen, and Bill Lloyd, she can and mostly does do it all by herself. Consider the first chorus on her new record Til The Wheels Fall Off (on Signature Sounds), from the song "Why Do I":

Why do I pull wings off butterflies
Look for things that hurt my eyes
I kiss the boys but I'm the one who cries
Why do I get off on misery
Loneliness feels good to me
I'm happy when I'm all hung out to dry
Why do I

But when I call her funny, I'm also underselling her, because her keen vision into the fragility and fragmentation of the grownup condition goes beyond that. "Even the Weak Survive" is a scream, but it smarts like the truth, too.

The chick has studio savvy and experience, and she has cooked up a quartet of recording environments (with respective co-producers) including Nashville, New York, and Glasgow, that make for a far reaching and well rounded record, it's brilliant. At George Bradfute's Tone Chaparral Studio and Steve Allen's Blue Planet Studio, combos of bohemian princes laid down some mindbending tracks. Really, people who think Nashville is just cranking out bad Country music don't understand what's happening here. Out of town, Richard Barone deftly produced the opening quoted number in NYC, and the big surprise for us was the outtasight trio of songs produced with Davie Scott of The Pearlfishers in Glasgow, Scotland, fantastic...like the spooky wonderful "How People Are":

What scares me the most
is not how you are
What scares me the most
is how people are
drifting and dreaming of someone like you
lonely and looking for two in love to screw it up

She's a killer, what can I say. She came to Nashville in the late 90s, after more than twenty years in NYC, where she first came to national attention. She jumped right out there on her first solo record, Diary of a Mod Housewife (1996), when Spin magazine awarded her "Songwriter of the Year" no less, amongst many other accolades, radio appearances, and national top ten lists. 1998's Middlescence brought national tours in front of big acts and a Lilith Fair spot. She rolled on to Nashville and tracked the much lauded Sugar Tree record with Brad Jones at Alex the Great Studio, again to well deserved critical acclaim (see our review). Between that release and the new album, Koch Records put out an anthology called 18 Again (which a rollingstone.com writer called "The Reissue of the Year"). Along with selections from the first three records, it includes one of the classic co-writes from razor sharp foil Bill DeMain, "Keep It to Yourself."

We're very interested to see Amy ally herself with Signature Sounds, a great MA singer songwriter label. As far as we know, Til The Wheels Fall Off marks their first foray into a more pop or rock arena, and it's also Amy's first CD on a more folk label. Since many factors channel an artist like Amy Rigby into the singer songwriter venues largely associated with "new folk," it will be very educational to see the marriage unfold. Bottom line, it's just a really great singer songwriter on a really great singer songwriter label, the rest is just little boxes, to quote a folk song. (You may recall that Signature Sounds is also the home of last month's feature artist Louise Taylor, whose new release Velvet Town also went far outside their former paradigm--we sure like what they're doing over there.)

A very relaxed and entertaining conversation with Amy follows, she's a real peach. She even says so herself, in the opener:

I look sweet but deep inside I'm awful
I'm colder than a frozen waffle
I'm always searching for the rip
in the silver lining
here it is
I'm busy being so downtrodden
I'm just a peach that's going rotten
I wanna save the other peaches so I roll away
I'm careful where I land
Does anybody understand?

Here's our suggestion: don't even think about it, go here and buy this record. Then you can really feel a part of the following conversation with the Mod Housewife herself, Amy Rigby. continue to interview