Oh Good It’s Al Riggs release show | The Pinhook, Durham | Nov. 12, 9 p.m. | $10
When you’re as prolific as Durham’s al Riggs—whose output of albums, mini-albums, EPs, and one-off covers has arrived in a more or less continuous stream since Riggs began releasing music in 2011—it’s inevitable that some work ends up on the cutting-room floor.
That’s the premise behind Oh Good It’s Al Riggs, which collects eight songs recorded between 2019 and 2021 that, for one reason or another, didn’t find a home on any other project.
Riggs bills the release as a collection of “mini-epics,” which positions each track more as a self-contained unit, with clear rising and falling action, than as part of a larger whole. A ragged intensity does characterize many of these tracks, from the arena-sized chorus of “Onshore” to the scorching breakdown that hits near the one-minute mark of “GFC” (that’s “good, fast, and cheap”).
The only exception to this rule may be the closing track, “Springwater,” which paints a picture of a rural domestic idyll over sparse acoustic guitar and bass: “When you float back to the house at dusk / I will have taken the children, the cats under the porch, and the bulk of the garden,” Riggs sings, “so you can keep floating away / Springwater in your hair.”
An alternate take of “Nun in the Tower,” meanwhile—which appeared as the final track of Riggs’s most recent full-length, April’s I Got a Big Electric Fan to Keep Me Cool While I Sleep—is a near-complete reimagining of the original, using a droning organ to great effect.
For all its deliberately low-stakes approach, though, Oh Good It’s Al Riggs manages to be remarkably cohesive. This is in part thanks to the collaborators Riggs brought on to the project: three of the tracks were recorded at the Greensboro studio LGTBIZ with multi-instrumentalist Brad Cook (whose credits include Bon Iver and Sharon Van Etten), while the mastering work of Patrick Klem (a favorite engineer of Three Lobed Recordings and Paradise of Bachelors) lends the collection a consistent, vinyl-ready crispness.
Whether by accident or by design, Oh Good It’s Al Riggs may be the most essentially-al-Riggs release yet, a testament to both the homespun ethos and the uniform strength of their material.
Even an al Riggs album full of leftovers and misfits still runs with the best of them.
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