Nomadic Rigby brings her music home
The collage of images on the cover of Amy Rigby's new CD features an attractive, dark-haired, dark-eyed woman at different stages of her life. In some photos she looks almost grim; in others, there is just the hint of a smile. In one photo there's a black line drawn through her eyes.
The title, "Little Fugitive," perfectly fits the visuals, evoking the most-wanted posters found in post offices. But Rigby, a native of Mt. Lebanon, is not running away from anything. She has, however, been more or less running from one place to another since she left the area in the late 1970s to pursue a career in music.
"I thought I was living a normal life, but it has occurred to me that I've been on the move a lot," says Rigby, who performs at Club Cafe tonight. "I like living on the road. I like traveling, I like moving from city to city when I'm touring."
Rigby is currently living in Cleveland, where her daughter is in her senior year of high school. She's previously called New York City and Nashville home. The only constant, aside from her daughter, is Rigby's music. Since she released "Diary of a Mod Housewife" in 1996, she's been drawn raves from the likes of noted critic Robert Christgau, who has called all of Rigby's releases "terrific."
"Little Fugitive," however, just might be Rigby's best. The songs are crisply melodic, the lyrics succinct and Rigby herself has never sounded better -- even as she admits she's not settled in her personal life.
"Happy personally• Maybe not," she says with a laugh. "But having clarity of mind, I think I definitely felt that and a renewed sense of purpose going into making the record I don't think I felt so strongly before. So, I was happy in doing what I do."
"Little Fugitive," recorded in Brooklyn, takes its title from a low-budget movie of the same name set in Coney Island in 1953. Rigby says the film has inspired independent filmmakers for years, and she uses it as a reference point to distinguish her take on the meaning of fugitive from the more traditional, James Dean-like figure.
"I didn't want anything too obvious," Rigby says.
Instead she references the Russian mystic in "Like Rasputin" and the late, great Joey Ramone in "Dancing with Joey Ramone." Other songs take atypical viewpoints about relationships and love, with Rigby usually throwing in a few zingers. In "Needy Men" she lists all the failings of the male of the species before adding, almost as an afterthought, "it's just like looking in a mirror."
"I've had to do so much solo playing over the last few years I've almost written more punch lines in some of my song," she says. "If I'm out there by myself ... It helps to have the those little things that get the audience going. I think that has focused some of the humor in the songs."
While the songs may bring smiles to attentive listeners, they also reflect the life and times of a 40-something woman who is still searching for happiness.
"With each song, I just don't feel like there are any excess lines," Rigby says. "I do feel like I've gotten more concise as far the lyrics. And I also think we didn't go for a lot of flourishes with the music. There are little things in there, but there are not a lot of guitar solos, not a lot of extra stuff. And I like that about it. "
When: 7 p.m. today.
Where: Club Cafe, South Side.
Details: 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com .