Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

Amy Fix

Amy Fix

Screw the folk ethos: Maybe the reason so many fans of acoustic music spend so much time in clubs and coffeehouses or road-tripping from festival to festival isn’t because the live stuff is so spectacular, but because the recorded product is so egregiously bad. Too many bards do the girl-with-guitar thing onstage and then, in the studio, shovel on snares, synths, and whatever other sounds the budget will allow, perhaps to sell themselves to radio stations that aren’t looking for anything with a whiff of the F-word anyway. Credit producer Dan Martin (creator, with partner Michael Biello, of a string of gay-themed musicals), singer-songwriter Amy Fix, and guitarist Sam Fenster with giving audience and performer alike breathing room on Fix’s debut, Spoon. “Dear, queer, and so sincere!” (according to her Web site), young New Yorker Fix creates music that, at its best, combines the offbeat freshness of a vintage Rickie Lee Jones performance with the squirmily nostalgic humor of a Lynda Barry panel. Two-thirds of Spoon is laced with sugar—Fix describes her songs about overcoming childhood trauma as “healing”—but for the blessedly unwounded among us, the back-to-back suicide- and incest-survival ballads “48 Hours” and “Who Will Hold Me?” may be tough medicine. Hope for recovery is offered more obliquely and poetically in the album’s closer, “Battlestations”: “You know you can come here if you get out of that cage…./I don’t want to trap you, I just want you here.” Even better is the naughty-cute “Closet,” wherein Fix tosses off references to “the famous actor/That all the straight women like to Cruise” and the actress who doesn’t want to “Foster any rumors in the news.” Throughout, Fenster proves himself the album’s secret weapon, providing understated counterpoint to Fix’s loosely structured monologues and winsome, companionable alto. On “Jesse McFadden,” for example, he embellishes Fix’s memories of the seventh-grade crush object with “tight jeans and puffy sleeves” with a “My Sharona” riff on the chorus and the occasional raised eyebrow of a bent string—just enough instrumental color to add sass to a sweet girlhood memoir. It’s a less-is-more ethos that creates a closer relationship between live and Memorex—but still leaves room for a career-boosting DNA remix. —Pamela Murray Winters