Amy Rigby has been writing great alt-rock for decades. That she's never quite achieved the level of attention she so richly deserves is a mystery to me. On her new record, The Old Guys, Rigby delivers another batch of tunes that are both sardonic and beautiful. She has a real knack for this sort of thing, obviously, and it's worth reminding readers that her material is still rich and masterful.
From the opening number about Philip Roth and Bob Dylan, and on to the lyrical "Are We Still There Yet", Amy Rigby reveals her considerable skills at sharply-observed lyrics even as the melodies ache and swirl. Rigby's art has more in common with that of guys like Elvis Costello and Graham Parker than it does anyone of a younger generation. That said, she brings a trace of Americana to this stuff, especially "place" songs like "Playing Pittsburgh" and "Back From Amarillo" here. There's something lived-in about these cuts, and when Rigby references her hometown of Pittsburgh, a listener feels a part of something confessional and truthful, and wildly tuneful. Elsewhere, the lyrical "Robert Altman" offers up a playful ode to the director, while "Bob" is the second song on The Old Guys to reference Dylan. It is a fine track, and very nearly a standout here next to the title cut.
At her best here, Rigby is slyly taking aim at her male peers, and a few male artistic pioneers, and leveling a few keenly-observed shots their way. Her attitude is one of both respect and awareness of the degrees of human frailty all around her, even among "The Old Guys", those who've been put up on a pedestal as artistic greats. Rigby can make this sort of stuff sound effortlessly composed and performed, and that's her real skill as a songwriter and singer. That's she equally adept at crafting a clever turn of phrase as she is composing a melody is something to be praised yet again.
More details on The Old Guys via the link below. More details on Amy Rigby via her official website.