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Record Review - 1 December 09 2000

Amy Rigby, former member of '80s bands Last Roundup and the Shams, popped on the solo scene in '96 with the widely-acclaimed Diary of a Mod Housewife, portraying herself as a concept act of sorts: the working mother.
Two years later, Rigby's Middlescence looked soberly at aging. Now 40 and recently transplanted to Nashville from New York, these days Rigby pines for relationships that, like the singer herself, have mostly gone south. But while The Sugar Tree often bears fruit of her looming middle age, it also proves she's still got some sap flowing.
Surrounded by some of New Nashville's most valuable pop and modern-country players, Rigby's guitar and voice are left, often vulnerably, out front. Producer Brad Jones (Jill Sobule, Swandive) has decorated Rigby's cake, yet leaves her plenty of room to blow out the candles. Rigby's party includes most of the band Swandive, Bill Lloyd, multi-instrumentalist Ross Rice, Wilco's Ken Coomer and Rigby's current touring partner Will Kimbrough. The resulting album is a joyous affirmation of lost and found love among real adults.
In "Rode Hard," Rigby sings of being used and abused, but she remains willing to try her luck again. "Balls" finds her wishing she could stand up to the rascal who only occasionally calls her. Yet, humanly, she loves him more than boyfriends who actually care. "Cynically Yours," meanwhile, is a caustic take on wedding vows, including the clause "to part without the destruction of crockery, automobiles or each other's good name in print or song." With a body of work as strong as Rigby's mature trilogy, her name is intact and very good, indeed.
Amy Rigby plays Smith's Olde Bar, Wed., Dec. 13.