Amy Rigby, The Sugar Tree (Koch): The Sugar Tree, Amy Rigby's third album, may be sweet, but it's not saccharine. At times it can be downright sour, or at least melancholy. On "Happy for You," she sadly sings, "Seems we don't have a lot in common since you went and found someone/ Everything is hearts and flowers when you're around/ And it makes me feel like I'm someone who has been left behind/ But I'm happy for you." On other songs like "Let Me in a Little Bit" and "Better Stay Gone" she gets cut up on her own lyrical barbs about life and love, which seem so real they could be taken from a page about my life (that is, if I were a single mom eking out a living in Nashville). Even with the occasional addition of strings, Rigby's arrangements are simple; the melodies convey a sense of beauty and optimism that conflict with (but ultimately complement) some of the darker lyrics, creating a dynamic tension in the process. Her sense of humor is evident throughout her songs, particularly on "Cynically Yours." "The thought of you doesn't fill me with dread/ I can picture being with you 'til one (or both) of us is dead/ At the end of the day I've got nothing good to say/ But you don't suck so I'm cynically yours." The protagonist in Marshall Crenshaw's "Cynical Girl" has found a soul mate. — Kembrew McLeod

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