Will Rigby

Sidekick Phenomenon

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Will Rigby debuts as a singer/songwriter with this charming collection of offbeat pop and country. Recorded solo during downtime from his gig as drummer for the dB's, Sidekick Phenomenon is a shambling, stumbling set with enough personality to easily leap over the rough spots. Rigby's cracked warble is wide open and warm, inviting you into his kitchen with a grin, a mug of coffee, and maybe an empty beer can to tap on. That's the initial vibe of Sidekick Phenomenon, opening with a homey take on the Hank Williams chestnut "Settin' the Woods on Fire," complete with the clang of pot-and-pan percussion. The album is bookended with an equally unhinged run through Merle Haggard's "I Can't Hold Myself in Line," but the big hit should have been Rigby's own "The Question," a gentle honky tonk meditation on the meaning of love. Augmented with Peter Holsapple on guitar and Jeff Beninato on bass, Rigby croons his plea for a woman's affection with a lyric that moves gradually from sweet metaphor ("Do you want our love to be a candle with a limited lifespan/Or do you want our love to be an eternal flame?") to mild aggression ("Can you look me in the eye and say that I don't love you?") and finally to absurdity ("I like the way your soul duplicates the shape of the world"). Some of the tracks aren't as spontaneous, and when Rigby overdubs too many instruments the sounds start fighting for space in the murk. Still, the songcraft is strong enough to overcome in the sloppier pieces, and the off-kilter air lends weaker tunes personality; Rigby can't lose. A special guest caps off Sidekick Phenomenon, the artist's future wife, Amy Rigby (appearing under her maiden name of McMahon). She belts out the delightfully eccentric closer, "Let Me Show You How I Can Do," an apparently improvised folk thrash filled with non sequitur lyrics about tigers and lollipops. Will Rigby didn't give up the day job after finishing Sidekick Phenomenon. When the dB's ended, he took the drummer's throne on session and stage work with top-notch artists like Matthew Sweet and Steve Earle; a second solo effort was released in 2003, Paradoxaholic.