Written By: Fletcher Bonin
If your life is missing a steadily plucked banjo and soulful, heartfelt lyrics then I highly recommend you check out Hurray for the Riff Raff’s latest album Small Town Heroes. Their bluegrass, folk-blues, indie sound is reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and lead singer Alynda Segarra may just have cemented herself as the female Johnny Cash. The band’s formation in New Orleans, Louisiana comes through in the American South tones and themes of each track, but is warped into beauty by Segarra’s Bronx, New York upbringing and doo-wop, Motown influences. This is the sound that blues, folk and indie fans alike have been craving, often lost voices in the overbearing and moneyed rap and electronic music industries.
Segarra, the lead vocalist, combines retro instrumentals with her own expressive, melodic warble. The expertly executed guitar chord scratches and rhythmic banjo plucks pair beautifully with her poetic lyrics. My personal favorite of the twelve track album is ‘St Roch Blues’. Segarra’s voice begins subtly and nearly acapella, before soaring along with the entering guitar chords as she sings “I’ve seen so many, of my good friends go.” The track is intense and personal, raw and pure. On “Good Time Blues” she continues to traffic in this reflective, heartfelt tone, warning us with the lyric “Don’t let the sun catch you crying.”
If ‘St Roch Blues’ is my favorite song off the album, ‘The Body Electric’ is a very close second. Again, I find myself obsessing over the genius of Riff Raff’s lyrics. She sings “what’s a man with a rifle in his hand gonna do for a world that’s so sick and sad.” Each track features rhythmic guitar, banjo or violin, brought to life and vitality through Segarra’s trembling croon.
Her lyrics are soulful and understanding. Segarra’s voice inspires trust in their pure vulnerability. She turns pain and joy alike into beautiful melodies that you will want to hum as you walk through a field of corn. Of course, they are equally enjoyable through your headphones sitting at your desk, which is how I am listening in the absence of a corn field. Do yourself a favor, check out Small Town Heroes today.