A superb debut album from Oklahoma-based singer/songwriter Rigby Summer.
Rigby Summer’s new album ‘Geography’ couldn’t be more aptly named. There are song titles such as ‘Kentucky’, ‘Delaware, California, ’NY or LA’, and ‘Michigan’ and lyrics that include places like Hollywood, Timbuktu, St Petersburg, Sydney, Denver and the Brooklyn Bridge amongst others – geography indeed.
Summer has been writing songs for over fifteen years but has finally gotten round to recording eleven of them and her debut album is a joy. The tracks vary from country to folk to pure Americana with even a sprinkling of pop on ‘NY or LA’ as well as the anthemic ‘Michigan’ – if they don’t have a state song, they should consider this. Summer’s voice is crystal clear and at times has echoes of Joan Baez, Emmy Lou Harris Mary Chapin Carpenter and Linda Ronstadt amongst others but there’s a timbre and richness that is unique to Summer.
Most of the songs on the album are love songs but with a twist and her lyrics have a unique take on the well-trodden subject. Her lyrics whether they be about relationships or unrequited love are never clichéd or trite and her imagery is almost cinematic in form. As well as the songs about love, there are even two about musical instruments ‘Buy Me A Piano’ where Summer sings about preferring a new piano to a diamond ring and ‘Gibson Guitar’ where she falls in love with the owner of the instrument as well as the guitar itself.
And talking about instruments, there’s a big variety on the album, all superbly played. Summer herself plays guitar, ukulele and piano and she’s aided and abetted by David Leach on bass, Nick Gedra on mandolin and fiddle, Steve Boaz on percussion, Matt Magerkurth on cello, Louise Goldberg on piano and the album’s co-producer (with Summer), Kyle Reid on pedal steel, lead guitar, organ and banjo. Some of the combinations of instruments are inspired with piano and cello on some, pedal steel and accordion and fiddle and tom-toms on others – the arrangements are a joy and along with some delightful harmony backing vocals, they give Summer the platform for her voice to swoop and soar and enabes her lyrics to be heard in all their glory.
After fifteen years of songwriting, Rigby Summer must have a lot more than the eleven songs on ‘Geography’ in her locker – let’s hope she records and releases some more of them very soon. But in the meantime, if you’re off on a road trip, on a plane, a train, a bus or a just a cycle to the park, take ‘Geography’ along for the ride – it’ll brighten up your journey.