Singer-songwriter Amy Rigby was no stranger to twang before she moved from New York to Nashville last year. But the geography does make a difference on her first missive from Music City, the recently released The Sugar Tree (Koch). Rigby’s excellent previous albums, Diary of a Mod Housewife and Middlescence, were produced by former Cars keyboardist Elliot Easton, who brushed her rootsy hooks with a new-wave gloss, but Nashville producer Brad Jones (who’s worked with Marshall Crenshaw, Steve Forbert, and Jill Sobule, among others) has created a warmer and somehow more appropriate setting for her very adult songs. In particular, the flexible, timeless guitar playing of Will Kimbrough (of Will & the Bushmen fame) gives them a consistent gravity even when Rigby’s cracking wise. Rigby split with her husband, former dB’s drummer Will Rigby, between her first and second records, and on The Sugar Tree she continues to chronicle divorced single motherhood with poignant wit. In “Happy for You” Rigby tries to be glad for a single friend who falls in love, but can’t hide her true feelings. “You’ve got sunshine, I’ve got a cloudy day / You’ve got stardust, I’ve got bills to pay,” she sings. “You’ve got love I’m jealous of.” She makes a joke out of unrequited longing on “Balls,” where she wishes she could be less emotional and more controlling: “You’ve got a lot of balls, you don’t even care,” she spits, then after a pause adds, “Wish I could grow a pair.” Perhaps the most touching tune is “Magicians,” an optimistic but escapist ballad about finding solace in carnality (“Give the cold hard facts back to the mathematicians / We’re magicians / We make reality disappear”). You have to hope Rigby will eventually find what she’s looking for, but meanwhile she’s writing the best songs of her life. Saturday, October 21, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

Peter Margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Glen Rose.