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Amy Rigby 

Til the Wheels Fall Off

Wednesday, May 14 2003
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Way back when, some famous Brit rock singer rasped out a line about shuffling off this mortal coil before getting too long in the tooth -- of course, when he finally got old, he'd softened his stance somewhat. Rock 'n' roll is often thought of as a young person's music, and not without reason, but thankfully there are a few performers who can successfully come to grips with maturity without sounding antiquated. Amy Rigby is one. Throughout three fine discs released on the Koch label, she has established a melody-rich, roots-rockin', sardonic singer/songwriter oeuvre in which she recounts the intermittent joys and knotty snags facing aging hipsters forced to confront single parenthood and the single life. (To those under 30: Don't be smug. It could happen to you.)

Til the Wheels Fall Off, Rigby's first platter for a new label, is as consistently good as its predecessors, with the principal difference being that some of the ol' folk/country/pop/rock snap 'n' twang has been supplanted by pensive sophistication. Still, Rigby's wit is as sharp as ever: In "Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again" she opines, "Whatever happened to "babe' and "stud'?/ Too much KFC and Bud," charging her delivery with the right mix of resignation and tenacity. "The Deal" juxtaposes a jaunty Beach Boys/Van Dyke Parks/Stereolab melody with lyrics that delineate those annoying how-do-we-define-us negotiations that too often go with modern relationships. The ballad "Don't Ever Change" is musically and lyrically her version of the Stones' "Get Off My Cloud," sung not from the standpoint of an impetuous kid, but rather as a wistful adult taking stock of the good things in her life. But don't think Rigby's gone all mellow on us -- note the recalcitrant jangler "Last Request," as full of piss and vinegar (and as catchy) as anything off Elvis Costello's This Year's Model or Brutal Youth. If her latest album is any indication, Rigby will be rocking her way (with plenty of classy aplomb) into that proverbial good night.

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Mark Keresman

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