This is a sweet tearjerker of an album disguised as a lowly covers set. A few years ago, long-time cult heroes and doggedly romantic songwriters Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby became collaborators — and a couple — after each had written a career's worth of messed-up-love songs. This set of non-originals attests to their great combined record collection. It's mostly non-obvious '60s songs, with one '70s oddity ("Living Next Door to Alice," a UK hit by Smokie) along with latter-day tracks by Tom Petty ("Walls") and the Who ("Endless Wire").
But the album turns out prettier and more melancholy than anything either has done solo. For example, "In My Room" — not exactly the happiest Beach Boys tune to begin with — sounds a lot more desperate, as if Brian Wilson had written it during his '70s withdrawal. Rigby makes "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" more of a plea, losing the bubbly feel of Jackie DeShannon's original. She also does a non-campy take on Abba's "Fernando."
Eric turns "I Get Out of Breath" (a lesser-known Turtles album track) from a teen-angst anthem into a grown-up-angst anthem by updating the age reference and giving it a more grizzled vocal. Eric's cockney drawl finds its unlikely match in Amy's purer tone, and this disc is as heartfelt as the pop songs they love.
WRECKLESS ERIC & AMY RIGBY | T.T. the Bear's Place, 10 Brookline St, Cambridge | June 27 | 617.492.0082 or ttthebears.com