Halfway through her gig at Iota on Thursday night, Amy Rigby mentioned that she has moved to Nashville, and listening to the ragtag country swing of her backing trio, it was obvious that Music City has influenced her. She still isn't likely to become a pawn in popular country's game, though, and she joked about one of the new songs she played near the end of the 100-minute set: "Faith Hill won't be recording this one."
Rigby did recast some of her songs. "20 Questions" took on a rockabilly shuffle, "What I Need" became country folk, and "20th Anniversary" loped like something from the Band. For the most part, the players were savvy enough not to undermine Rigby's sharp lyrical portraits, though songs like "The Good Girls" missed a rock-and-roll kick. Rigby, whose ex-husband is onetime db's drummer Will Rigby, doesn't seem particularly enamored of percussionists. She paused during "Give the Drummer Some" to deliver a passel of jokes ("How do you get the drummer off your porch? Pay him for the pizza"), and her band was defiantly drummerless.
Guitarist Jon Graboff's lead fills, combining with piano and stand-up bass, were effective and ultimately freewheeling enough that Rigby's satirical humor--at times recalling Loudon Wainwright--highlighted the show. When she played it straight, as during a new song she composed to sing with Skeeter Davis, one of her idols, she proved that her songwriting skill is easily the equal of anything being written in her new home town.