Exactly why an artist who has only made three albums (all of which are in print) and is still active in music should merit a career-spanning compilation is a question for great minds, but since a remarkably large amount of the world still hasn't gotten hip to the smarts, wit, and overall wonderfulness of Amy Rigby's music, 18 Again: An Anthology at least offers the benighted a splendid opportunity to discover what they've been missing in one convenient package. Drawing a roughly equal number of tracks from Rigby's three albums for Koch (Diary of a Mod Housewife, Middlescence, and The Sugar Tree) and tossing in an unreleased demo and one new song for completists, 18 Again: An Anthology is an admirably accurate portrait of the many moods of Amy Rigby -- justifiably angry ("20 Questions"), bitterly witty ("Cynically Yours"), coyly lustful ("Wait Til I Get You Home"), frustrated romantic ("Knapsack"), involved and not liking it ("We're Stronger Than That"), and single and not always thrilled about that either ("All I Want"). Rigby isn't the first woman to devote a large part of her songwriting repertoire to the travails of a single woman edging into middle age and coming to terms with the ups and downs of relationships, but while she knows how to play these situations for laughs, even Rigby's funniest songs never shrink from the passions, fears, and frustrations that are simple facts of life. In short, Rigby always comes across as a real person with a real life, which makes the superb craft of her work all the more powerful. If anyone painted a truer picture of the life of an over-40 single mom in America, its uncertain how many folks would have the courage to listen to it -- but Amy Rigby tells her tales with humor, intelligence, and great melodies, which makes her an underappreciated treasure among contemporary singer/songwriters. If you want to start dipping into her work, 18 Again: An Anthology is an excellent introduction.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming