Will Rigby

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Paradoxaholic Review

by Michael Berick

For most of his musical career, drummer Will Rigby has resided at the rear of the stage. He was a member of '80s cult fave the dB's and played with folks like Steve Earle, Matthew Sweet, and Kelly Willis. Paradoxaholic marks a rare move to the front of the stage for Rigby. It is only his second solo full-length, coming some 17 years after his debut, Sidekick Phenomenon. What is also rare is that this disc avoids being simply a sidekick vanity piece. "Got You up My Sleeve" kicks things off in rollicking, NRBQ-esque style, and that seminal roots rock band serves as a touchstone for Rigby's music. Both "The Jerks at Work" and "If I Can't Be King," for example, sound like long-lost NRBQ gems. Like NRBQ, Rigby's songs frequently mix sarcastic humor with rootsy hooks. "This Song Isn't Even About You" and "Sensible Shoes" winningly combine sharp wit, self-deprecation, and barroom riffs, while on the bittersweet "The Sweeter Thing to Do" he uses his Vic Chesnutt-like twang to bring out the sadness in this tale of love lost. Besides songs about relationship woes, Rigby utilizes his many years as a musician in his songwriting. "Leanin' on Bob" stands as a hilarious (and knowing) look at being a Bob Dylan disciple and the hidden track, "Ricky Skaggs Tonite," is an odd tale starring the Nashville star. The fabulous "...Wheelchair, Drunk" might not specifically be about a musician's life, but this tale of misadventure sounds like something torn from a tour journal. Although he turns to such old pals as his ex-dB's mate Gene Holder, guitarist Dave Schramm, and Mark Spencer for backing support, Rigby also demonstrates his versatility on this disc by playing keyboards, bass, and guitar besides the drums. But more impressively, he displays his generally hidden skill as a witty songwriter. His sense of humor, coupled with his sense for hooks, makes Paradoxaholic a lively and always entertaining listen. Hopefully, it won't take him more than 15 years to create his next album.

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