Amy Rigby Little Fugitive

This American songstress has had a fascinating career. In the ’80s, she was a member of acclaimed urban country string band Last Roundup, then played in femme folk pop trio the Shams. Rigby’s 1996 solo debut, sporting the great title Diary of a Mod Housewife was a critical fave (Spin named her Songwriter of the Year then). Little Fugitive, her fifth album, is another gem. It’s hard to categorise musically, mixing elements of folk, adult pop, classic girl group-style pop (Ronnie Spector has covered a Rigby song, fittingly), and even punk. There’s a psychedelic tinge to "So You Know Now,” while her cover of Lenny Kaye’s "Things We Leave Behind” has a Pavement-like melody. Rigby has a bright and upbeat vocal style, but her melodies and lyrics are her trump cards. She continues to explore the themes of growing older as a divorcee and a mother, emerging as an all-round feisty, big-hearted soul. Rosanne Cash with a sense of humour might be an apt description. One highlight is "Dancing with Joey Ramone,” already a favourite track on Little Steven’s Underground Garage show. It’s a funny and moving tribute to the punk hero, even ending with a Ramones-ish guitar blast. There are no dud tracks, and the album’s fresh and spontaneous feel reflects the fact that it was recorded in just two days. (True North)