Previous Next
December Relix Magazine Sampler: Chris Robinson Brotherhood “New Cannonball Rag”
00:00 02:30
Volume Control Open/Close

Hurray for the Riff Raff

Jewly Hight | April 11, 2014

Not-so-small-town Heroes

New Orleans, LA

If you’ve read anything at all about Hurray for the Riff Raff, then you’ve likely encountered frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra’s backstory—specifically the portion where she left the Bronx as a teenager, hopped trains and landed in New Orleans playing a jazz washboard on street corners. The indie-folk singer-songwriter wasn’t surprised when the nomadic period of her life became a matter of great fascination in interviews. “I remember talking to my manager and just being like, ‘I told you—they’re obsessed with the trains!’” she laughs. The upside is that the folkloric narrative which surrounds Segarra links her to the young, boho-hobo troubadours who sang romantically of rail-riding freedom and populated the Greenwich Village scene that she “got so obsessed with.” After several self-released HFTRR albums, they signed to ATO and issued Small Town Heroes, a collection spanning wistful fingerpicking, loose-limbed boogies and rawboned romps, supplied with old-time bite by fiddler Yosi Pearlman. With her fluent, laconic delivery, Segarra tells of round-trip rambling, confesses relational wounds and, for the first time, offers her poetic critiques of violent culture, a markedly different breed of social commentary than the protest songs of the earlier folk revival. “I just know my age group,” she says of her updates to the folk lexicon. “I know how fast they will write you off being like, ‘Man, that’s corny.’…I think one of the hardest songs to write is a political song.”